Mian Zeeshan Shahid gets suspended sentence for deer poaching (and the BBC...

    Mian Zeeshan Shahid gets suspended sentence for deer poaching (and the BBC gets it wrong)

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    Not the actual deer

    Introduction

    We would imagine that the good folk of Croydon would not be surprised that there were one or two criminals in their midst. But they might be surprised to find that one of their number was a deer-rustling poacher, given that the Croydon part of that great city of London is more associated with concrete than wildlife.

    Well, on 8th September 2015 Mian Zeeshan Shahid, a 32 year old from Kenley, was sentenced to 4 months suspended for killing a deer (or possibly 7 months – see below).

     

     

    Facts

    Mr Shahid went out last December and found a deer in a field in South Croydon. It seems that he took it home and then killed it by slitting his throat (it’s not clear how he managed to get it into his car if it was still alive and kicking).

    He was a member of a Facebook Group called “Deer Stalkers International” and posted an update saying that he had killed a deer and it made “a good meal for 10“.

    Other members of the group rather unsportingly forwarded this to the Metropolitan Police.

     

    Offences

    It seems that there were two offences. One was said in the news reports as being ‘taking a deer’.

    It’s not quite clear which one this was. There are three possible offences under the Deer Act 1991 –

    s1 – Poaching

    s2 – Taking a deer in close season

    s3 – Taking a deer at night

    It can’t be s2, as it wasn’t the close season. We don’t know what time it was, so it could have been s3 and, given the news reports, we would go for that one.

    The other offence was causing the deer unnecessary suffering, presumably under s4 Animal Welfare Act 2006. As he was not in charge of the animal, the offence is under s4(1). This requires that the suffering is caused to a ‘protected animal’ – one that falls into the definition in s2 :

    “An animal is a “protected animal” for the purposes of this Act if—

    (a) it is of a kind which is commonly domesticated in the British Islands,

    (b) it is under the control of man whether on a permanent or temporary basis, or

    (c) it is not living in a wild state”

    Here, (a) won’t apply. We don’t know enough to say, but it would seem that the deer was not wild.

     

    What was the sentence?

    The maximum sentence for the Deer Act offences is 3 months, and 6 months for the Animal Cruelty one.

    The BBC said that Mr Shahid “pleaded guilty to both counts of taking a deer and causing it unnecessary suffering and received sentences of four and three months to run concurrently, suspended for two years“.

    So far so good. But earlier in the report the BBC said that he got “a seven month suspended sentence“. In other words, it was consecutive rather than concurrent.

    We’re pretty sure that they were concurrent, as a 7 month sentence would be unlawful (the maximum would be 6 months for two summary only offences).

    A further error (it would seem) in the report is that the ‘taking a deer’ offence cannot have got 4 months as the maximum is 3 months. We suspect then that the BBC got the sentences for the two offences the wrong way round.

    There would have been a surcharge, and probably an order for costs. In addition, the Court seized his “hunting gear and air weapons“.

     

     

    Conclusion

    It would seem that the maximum sentence was passed for the Deer Act offence despite their being a plea of guilty. Although this would normally be a error, given that the sentence was (we assume) concurrent, we doubt that there would be an appeal. It is in line with the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines (page 22).

    Mr Shahid was ordered to undertake 200 hours unpaid work as part of the Suspended Sentence. Again, this would not seem to be excessive.

    It does appear that the reporting from the BBC left a lot to be desired however …

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

    5 COMMENTS

    1. The first offence was section 1 for which he was sentenced to 3 months suspended and it is to run concurrently. http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/man-boasted-on-facebook-of-slitting-deers-throat-inside-his-south-london-home-a2942551.html

      Also, Mr Goold sentencing, said:
      “We have given the maximum prison sentence available to this court.

      “If more was available we would be considering more, this is a horrendous crime.

      “Be under no illusion how close you came today to being taken away in custody.”

      http://www.croydonadvertiser.co.uk/Kenley-man-escapes-jail-stealing-deer-cutting/story-27756978-detail/story.html

    2. I am aware of deer being kept as livestock at one time in a field very close to – a few yards from – the Croydon/Surrey border. The London Borough of Croydon has a long border with Surrey, and there are fields and woods actually within the boundaries of LB Croydon, particularly in the vicinity of Kenley and Coulsdon. It would be nothing unusual in this part of Croydon, if you were up in the small hours, to see deer in people’s gardens debarking their magnolia.

      Regardless of what English Person says, taking a deer kept as livestock would surely be theft. However the offence actually charged, deer poaching, is committed simply by taking a (wild) deer on private land without the landowner’s permission.

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