Royal Marine escapes jail after biting head off a pigeon

Royal Marine escapes jail after biting head off a pigeon

Photo from Wales online
Photo from Wales online


It’s been a good few years since I’ve had a night out in Cardiff. There are various reasons for that, one being that I am simply not hard enough.

Proof of that, if proof were needed, is given by Commando Adam Karmali, a 33 year old Royal Marine. After possibly having drunk too much, Mr Karmali posed with the pigeons head in his mouth for pictures to be taken by his friends.

Mr Karmali seemingly got a bit carried away at that point and bit his (or her, the reports aren’t clear) head off before spitting it out. This did not impressive some other people who were out and about and the police were called. In something you’d expect to see in a CSI programme, the police obtained a DNA sample from the bodiless pigeon head which lead to Mr Karmali.

On 15th May 2014 after having pleaded guilty, Mr Karmali was given a 12 month Community Order and required to undertake 150 hours unpaid work, as well as paying the Victim Surcharge of £60 and £85 costs.


What was the offence?

It was reported as being not taking all reasonable steps to ensure the needs of an animal he was responsible for were met“. This would be an offence under s9 Animal Welfare Act 2006. This would require that Mr Karmali was ‘responsible’ for the bird.

Although it would appear that the pigeon was a free spirit, untamed by human hand, by virtue of s3 Animal Welfare Act 2006,

(1) In this Act, references to a person responsible for an animal are to a person responsible for an animal whether on a permanent or temporary basis.

(2) In this Act, references to being responsible for an animal include being in charge of it.

Mr Karmali would have been ‘responsible’ for the pigeon from the moment he picked it up. I would have thought that an offence under s4 – causing unnecessary suffering – would have been a more obvious charge.

It is unclear whether the pigeon’s death was painful or not, but it would be an ambitious ask to run a trial on the basis that no injury was caused (have a look at a case of a squirrel shooter last year).



There are the Magistrates’ Court Sentencing Guidelines (page 40). This doesn’t fit too comfortably in the three brackets, but it would not be wrong to put it in the most serious category – it’s a pretty gruesome offence after all. We wouldn’t expect an appeal from this one.




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