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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 13:06 GMT
Guilty gamekeeper avoids prison
Cripps destroyed the goshawk's eggs and nest
A gamekeeper convicted of destroying the nest and eggs of a rare bird of prey has been given a three-month suspended jail sentence.

John Cripps, 60, used tree climbing spikes to disturb the goshawk nest in Derbyshire's Derwent Valley.

He told a wildlife officer too many of the birds were attacking grouse.

Cripps, of Ronksley, Derbyshire, was found guilty of three offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 after a three-day trial in January.

Peregrine nests

The district judge at Buxton said he took into account Cripps' age and the fact that he may lose his job and house, in deciding the sentence.

The RSPB says the verdict sends out a strong warning to others.

Buxton Magistrates' Court heard earlier that the gamekeeper, who looks after a private shooting estate in the valley, was confronted by conservation volunteers in April 2002.

He told them he believed there were too many goshawks in the area and that "something must be done", wildlife officer Stephen Downing told the court.

A few days later, volunteers returned to find a huge nest - the size of a man - damaged and its eggs smashed.

He also kept a diary with entries believed to relate to the persecution of other species in the area, such as peregrine falcons, ravens and a sparrowhawk, a court heard in January.

Cripps was convicted of recklessly disturbing a goshawk while it was on a nest containing eggs and intentionally destroying the eggs of a goshawk.

Cripps was found not guilty of 16 other offences.

Rare birds favour popular peak
13 Sep 03  |  Derbyshire

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