Page last updated at 20:20 GMT, Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Gamekeeper told he may face jail

Roger Venton
Roger Venton admitted two charges at Telford Magistrates' Court

A head gamekeeper who admitted setting illegal traps and allowing a junior gamekeeper to illegally kill animals has been told he could face jail.

Roger Venton, 33, of Borrough Cottage, Kempton Estate, Aston-on-Clun, Shropshire, pleaded guilty when he appeared at Telford Magistrates' Court.

The court heard he was charged after two former estate employees complained.

Gamekeeper Kyle Burden, 19, of Kempton, was found guilty of killing buzzards and badgers earlier this year.

He was given a 26-week prison sentence suspended for six months in September.

Covertly filmed

Magistrates hearing Venton's case were told he and Burden were charged following a joint operation by police and the RSPB in 2007.

RSPB officers had covertly filmed the traps, which had been set up on the 6,000 acre Kempton Estate to protect partridges and pheasants being reared for shoots.

Still from RSPB footage of buzzard trap
The RSPB secretly filmed the traps being erected on the estate

Using traps such as these has been illegal since 1904.

Fellow Kempton Estate game keepers Dean Coleman and Andrew Gravetts had blown the whistle on Venton's activities.

Outside court, Mr Coleman said: "I was employed as an under keeper on the Kempton Estate and I was asked by the head gamekeeper to kill birds of prey - buzzards.

"I didn't, hence why I'm here today giving evidence against Roger Venton, the head gamekeeper."

Venton admitted setting a spring trap between 16 July and 27 July 2007 and allowing Burden to use a caged trap with a baited raven on 15 May.

Venton, who no longer works for the estate, was told he would be sentenced on 2 January.

Mark Thomas, an officer with the RSPB, said he hoped the case would encourage more people to report similar incidents.

He said: "Hopefully by working with other gamekeepers like the gamekeepers here we can rid the world of persecution of birds of prey."


Roger Venton appeared at Telford Magistrates Court

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