Gunman shot bird outside home for stealing his fish

A man shot a wild bird dead as a “last resort” because it kept on stealing his fish, a court heard.

John Deas blasted the bird out of the sky after a long-running battle. Picture: Kingdom News Agency
John Deas blasted the bird out of the sky after a long-running battle. Picture: Kingdom News Agency

John Deas then picked up the herring gull in front of a shocked neighbour and said: “You won’t be eating my fish again.”

Dundee Sheriff Court heard Deas had been in a long running battle with the bird as he tried to protect fish stocks at his rural property near Anstruther.

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At one point he had erected a scarecrow in a bid to get rid of the bird – but that proved ineffective.

So as a “last resort” he blasted the bird from the sky on December 9 last year.

Fiscal depute Laura Bruce said: “A neighbour was in their kitchen when they heard a gunshot and saw a bird fall from the sky, landing on the ground near her garden.

“She saw the accused and asked if he had shot it and he replied ‘yes, it was eating my fish. Last year I said if I saw it again I’d get it’.

“He then picked up the bird and said ‘you won’t be eating my fish again’.

“Police were called and told him they would have to take his guns.”

Deas then told police he had a firearm lying unsecured in a caravan in the woods, which was found wrapped in a blanket beside a bed in the mobile home.

Deas (60) of Wester Pitkierie Cottage, Anstruther, pleaded guilty on summary complaint to charges of intentionally or recklessly killing a wild bird and of failing to keep a rifle properly secured at a caravan on land near Murthly, Perthshire.

Defence solicitor Hannah Beaumont said: “He has held firearms licences for 45 years with no issues.

“The gull had been a recurring issue at his property and measures had been attempted to prevent it.

“This was a last resort.

“He voluntarily gave up his firearms and ammunition.”

Sheriff Jillian Martin-Brown fined Deas £335.

She said: “Taking into account what’s been said on your behalf you should have used alternative measures, but I appreciate you were rapidly running out of options.”

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