Jeremy Wayle Conditionally Discharged for stamping on a pigeon

Jeremy Wayle Conditionally Discharged for stamping on a pigeon

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Introduction

Earlier this year Jeremy Wayle was minding his own business in Exeter City Centre, eating a hot dog, while a pigeon (name unknown), attracted no doubt by the smell of the fast snack, approached and started to take advantage of the crumbs to have a late lunch.

Mr Wayle (who apparently ‘doesn’t like pigeons’ which may be something of an understatement) called the pigeon ‘vermin’, stood on his (or her) wing with one foot, before using the other to stamp on the pigeon until it died.

Having pleaded guilty to this, Mr Wayle was given a 12 month Conditional Discharge on 3rd March 2015.

 

What was the offence?

It’s not reported, but we suspect s4 Animal Welfare Act 2006– causing unnecessary suffering. This applies to all animals, wild or domestic. It’s not illegal per se to kill a pigeon, but it is if the killing involves inhumane suffering (as stamping almost certainly would be).

*Edit* – we were tipped off BTL to another news report that states (thanks to John Allman for that) Mr Wayle pleaded guilty to ‘killing a non schedule one wild bird‘. This is probably a reference to an offence under s1 Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 – killing a wild bird. This is a summary only offence. There are no guidelines for this offence, but it may be that it is treated as less serious as the offence under the Animal Welfare Act (although it is hard to see why).

 

Sentence

There are no specific guidelines for this offence, but there is guidance in the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines (have a look at page 22). It looks like it is in the most serious category, which involves killing an animal. This has a starting point of 18 weeks, with a range of 12 to 26 weeks.

Why such a difference between that and the sentence passed? It is probably due in part to the fact that this was an impulsive act, with no intention to cause undue suffering (note – I previously said ‘harm’ which was the wrong word). The top level of the guidelines seem to be aimed at people who are sadistic towards an animal, or who are making profit out of an animals suffering. We know that Mr Wayle has a history of PTSD which may have provided some additional mitigation.

So, although the sentence seems a very lenient one, it is an explicable one and a good example of the fact that guidelines are ‘guidelines, not tramlines‘. Having said that, I would probably have given a higher sentence – it’s the sort of behaviour that would warrant a Community Order to my mind.

Hopefully Mr Wayle ate his dog with ketchup at least. Having it with mustard would have been one barbarism too far.

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Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.

8 COMMENTS

  1. I once saw one in a Supermarket – If I could have done I probably would have stamped on it. Did he take it home for Pigeon Pie ?

  2. I am afraid to have to say this would have been legal in France (Which has a similar problem)

    “En zone rurale principalement, des villes chargent par arrêté municipal les chasseurs d’éliminer les pigeons biset.
    Les entreprises peu scrupuleuses, les villes et aussi les particuliers :
    Tous les moyens sont bons comme des coups de gourdin, décapitation, enterrage vivant, asphyxie en sac en plastique, graines empoisonnées, tirs sauvages, pièges, bain d’acide, emmurage vivant, enfermement dans des clochers d’église, etc.

    And, thanks to google translate :-
    ” In rural areas mainly , cities charge by -law hunters eliminate Feral pigeons.
    The unscrupulous companies , cities and as individuals:
    All means are good as a bludgeon , decapitation , burying alive, plastic bag suffocation , poisonous seeds , wild fire , traps, acid bath , living walling , confinement in church steeples , etc.”

    This taken from – http://www.associationstephanelamart.com/index.php?page=dossiers&n=1

  3. What would the Exeter onlookers have said – had it been a hungry Rat ? (As I agree with above Pigeons are classed as Vermin) Indeed, would they have stayed to watch ?

  4. I don’t suppose that your posts are often enlivened by eye-witness testimony, but I was only a few feet away when this offence took place. It was pretty damn weird, and my first thought was that I was watching some strange piece of performance art. Eye witnesses are notoriously unreliable of course, and I doubt that I am better than anyone else, but in my recollection there was a small film crew present when these events unfolded (apparently recording something completely unconnected for the local paper). Wayle himself was wearing a snappily cut suit in a rather striking shade of blue, and the pigeon was pure white. It just looked as if the cameras were there deliberately, and the colours had been chosen to make the participants stand out from the crowd, and emphasise their roles in the drama.

    I don’t suppose that adds much to the legal perspective (unless my recollection is completely wrong, which would be an interesting insight into witness testimony), but hopefully I have lent a little local colour and verisimilitude to your story.

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