‘Bird lover’ avoids jail

Limavady Courthouse
Limavady Courthouse

A 79-year-old Limavady man described as “a bird lover” has received a suspended jail sentence.

Lawrence Dickson of Ardgarvan Cottages appeared at Limavady Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday for having possession or control of a live wild bird, namely a Goldfinch on May 12; for keeping the Goldfinch in a cage that was not of sufficient height, length or breadth to permit the bird to stretch its wings freely on May 13 and, on the same date, using bird lime for the purpose of killing or taking a wild bird.

The court heard police, a wildlife officer and a vet attended Dickson’s home on May 13 after reports he had been capturing birds.

At Dickson’s property, the officials found a Goldfinch in a small cage that hadn’t enough room for the bird to stretch its wings. A water bottle was empty. The court heard there were sticks in the garden that had glue on the top used to trap wild birds.

The court heard the Goldfinch died shortly after and that a post mortem revealed it had been in poor condition. Dickson told the police he had bought the bird, and had not captured it. He denied making the glue sticks.

Defence solicitor Paddy McGurk said Dickson was a bird lover and had always had an interest in animals. He said what Dickson had been doing was “muling”, which involved a Canary and a Goldfinch and there was a financial incentive involved.

District Judge Liam McNally said while Dickson had been described as a bird lover it was a complete misnomer. He said while there were no charges in consideration of the welfare of the birds, he said Dickson had set out to trap birds for financial gain. Judge McNally said taking into consideration Dickson’s age, and his otherwise plea of guilty, he would sentence him to three months in jail, suspended for two years.