Page last updated at 19:43 GMT, Friday, 1 August 2008 20:43 UK

Swan death case dropped

Dead swans
The carcasses were found in Radwell in October 2007

A case against three men accused of killing 29 swans has been dropped after evidence was lost at a police station.

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

Stephen Barrett, 38, Marcus Walker, 51, and Darren Walker, 47, from Chesham, Buckinghamshire, pleaded not guilty and a trial was set for Monday 4 August.

The CPS dropped the case as ammunition allegedly used to kill the swans was lost, Bedfordshire Police said.

The force added the loss of the ammunition from Greyfriars Police Station meant the defence would not be able to fully test the accusation that it was linked to one of the defendants' guns.

'Bitterly disappointed'

In a joint statement, Chief Crown Prosecutor Richard Newcombe and Det Ch Supt Andrew Richer, said: "The Crown Prosecution Service has issued a Notice of Discontinuance in relation to the case which means that the trial scheduled at Bedford Magistrates Court on Monday August 4 will not now go ahead.

"As the case involves a summary offence only the investigation cannot be reopened with a view to obtaining further evidence because fresh proceedings cannot be instigated within the time limits prescribed by law."

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

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

An RSPB spokesman said: "We are bitterly disappointed that this case has not gone to court and that nobody will stand in a court and face the charges that really ought to have been brought for the killing of quite an obscene number of swans.

"There was also a heron and a Marsh Harrier found with the swans.

"The Marsh Harrier is a bird that is protected under special law at all times and that makes this even more galling."

Three men deny killing 29 swans
13 Mar 08 |  Beds/Bucks/Herts

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