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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 March 2008, 11:58 GMT
Three men deny killing 29 swans
Dead swans
The carcasses were found in Radwell in October 2007
Three men accused of killing 29 swans have appeared before magistrates.

The men, from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, were charged under the Wildlife and Countryside Act with intentional killing of mute swans.

Stephen Barrett, 38, Marcus Walker, 51, and his brother Darren, 47, pleaded not guilty at Bedford Magistrates' Court. A trial was set for 4 August.

The swans, all shot, were found buried in a freshly dug pit near water at Radwell Lake, Bedfordshire, in October.

The lake, owned by the Walker brothers, Marcus, of Wykeridge Close, and Darren, of Rose Drive, was purpose-built for legal shoots.

An investigation was launched by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and Bedfordshire Police following the discovery of the dead birds.

Mr Barrett, of Chessmount Drive, also denied charges of possession of a rifle and ammunition and failing to comply with a condition on his firearms certificate.

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