A gamekeeper has been cleared of trying to trap wild birds, after a judge ruled RSPB video evidence gained by trespassing could not be used in court.
District Judge Kevin Grego, at Telford Magistrates’ Court, excluded the covert footage showing Neil Wainwright.
Wainwright, of Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire, was cleared of three counts related to trapping wild birds but admitted three unrelated charges.
The RSPB said it would discuss with the CPS the case’s wider implications.
Wainwright, who was fined £500 plus costs, claimed he had used two white quails in a trap at Birch Hill Wood, near Ratlinghope, south Shropshire, to catch mink or stoat rather than birds of prey.
RSPB investigator Howard Jones saw a pheasant run and a cage with birds in and trespassed on to land to investigate further, the court heard.
Mr Jones found a trap with two white quails inside being used as live bait and returned another day to set up covert recording equipment, the district judge was told.
When Mr Jones trespassed the first time to take a closer look he was "well meaning", but his return to set up covert recording equipment was "disproportionate", the judge said.
He said even when trespassers acted with the best motives, that did not allow their conduct to be "unfettered".
Wainwright was fined £300 for not storing ammunition properly and £200 for not storing chemicals properly and ordered to pay costs of £85 and a £30 surcharge.
He was cleared of using and setting a trap related to the wild birds and failing to ensure the quails’ welfare.
Speaking outside court, Mr Jones said it was first time he had known such covert video evidence from the RSPB not to be allowed in court.
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