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).
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.
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
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 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“.
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 …