Man sentenced for failure to keep chemicals safely

A man has been sentenced to two counts of failure to comply with the keeping of chemicals health and safety regulation, as well as four counts of failure to comply with firearm licenses. He was given a 12-month community order and must carry out 80 hours of unpaid work.

Shane Leech, 33, pleaded guilty to these offences.

On 15 September 2020, a report was made by a member of the public to Natural England of a dead buzzard and pigeon near Lakenheath, Suffolk. The birds were collected and sent for forensic testing and results showed that the partially plucked pigeon had Bendiocarb residue, a highly toxic chemical to be used against insects, on its body. The buzzard had Bendiocarb residue in its stomach and it is likely that the buzzard died after eating the pigeon carcass.

There was insufficient evidence to prove Mr Leech was the one who put out poisoned bait or killed the buzzard. A search of Leech’s home on the 18 January 2021 found two 3kg containers of Bendiocarb.

In a search of an outbuilding on Leech’s property around thirty dead pheasants were laying on the floor of the building. There were no health and safety warnings stating that insecticide chemicals were being stored anywhere on Leech’s property. Furthermore, the search also showed that Leech had two shotguns in an unlocked room.

Suffolk Police reported the case to the CPS who then undertook a review of evidence and authorized charges against Leech for breaches of health and safety and firearm licenses.

Ashley Petchey, of the CPS, said: “Shane Leech showed no responsibility for his actions. This case demonstrates the need to store chemicals securely and safely as failing to do so can have tragic circumstances, especially for wildlife in the countryside.

“Leech also failed to store two shotguns and ammunition properly, which could have endangered people’s lives. We will always work with the police to prosecute those who are endangering wildlife and our countryside.”

Leech was sentenced on 8 November 2021 at Ipswich Magistrates Court for two counts of failure to comply with a health and safety regulation and four counts of failing to comply with firearm licenses

Leech was sentenced to 12-month community order with 80 hours unpaid work, £105 in legal costs and £95 Victim Surcharge. Leech also had to forfeit the stored chemicals.