Page last updated at 13:02 GMT, Thursday, 21 August 2008 14:02 UK

Gamekeeper threatened with jail

Kyle Burden
Kyle Burden has been suspended from his post at the Kempton Estate

A gamekeeper has been warned he could be jailed after admitting killing buzzards and badgers to protect the pheasants he was looking after.

Kyle Burden, 19, of Lydbury North, Shropshire, had admitted nine offences at an earlier hearing at Ludlow Magistrates' Court.

They happened during 2007 at the Kempton Estate near Bishop's Castle.

Burden was granted bail and is expected to be sentenced at Telford Magistrates' Court in September.

Magistrates decided not to transfer the case to crown court for sentencing.

'So disturbed'

They had been told that Burden, who worked on the 6,000-acre estate, used a shotgun to kill buzzards in May and July last year.

Phil Mason, prosecuting, said two whistleblowers, who also worked on the estate, reported what Burden had been doing.

Mr Mason said: "One of them was employed during May last year and he witnessed Mr Burden shooting a number of buzzards and attempting to shoot a number of buzzards.

"At the end of this particular witness's term of employment he was so disturbed by what he saw that he reported the matter.

He was losing big numbers... the shoot was ready to start in September and he had to keep the numbers up
Defence lawyer Huw Williams

"Independently of that witness, another witness came forward and that witness too saw similar things."

It then prompted an investigation by the RSPB, and Burden initially denied any wrongdoing, he added.

Burden pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to killing two buzzards, attempting to kill a third bird, and to killing two badgers.

He also admitted setting illegal traps, possessing a shotgun while committing two of the offences, and asked for six other offences to be taken into consideration.

Huw Williams, defending, said Burden had no previous convictions and had been suspended from his post at Kempton.

Mr Williams added that Burden had wanted to "protect" the pheasants he was looking after.

He said: "He was losing big numbers... the shoot was ready to start in September and he had to keep the numbers up."

Another employee at Kempton has pleaded not guilty to five offences relating to spring and cage traps and will face trial on a date to be fixed.


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