A GAMEKEEPER who worked on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sydmonton Court Estate has been fined for illegally trapping a bird of prey.

Mark Stevens, 42, was told to pay £1,365 when he appeared at Basingstoke Magistrates Court last Thursday.

Stevens pleaded guilty to two offences under Section 8 of the Pests Act 1954 and Regulation 2 of the Spring Traps Approval Order 2012.

Mark Gammon, senior crown prosecutor for the CPS, said: “As a gamekeeper, Mark Stevens should have known that the way he had set up springs traps on a pole without any adequate cover posed a serious risk of harm or serious injury to birds of prey.

“A passer-by, who was out walking in the area of Ecchinswell, near Kingsclere, on August 19 last year, came across a tawny owl with its leg caught in one of Stevens’ traps.

“It was hanging head down from a post on the corner of the pheasant pen about two-three inches from the floor."

Mr Gammon said: “This undoubtedly caused a measure of pain and suffering to the bird. It remained held by this trap probably for some hours until it was released by the passer-by. It was so badly injured by the trap that it could not be treated and it had to be put down by a vet.”

“By pleading guilty, Mark Stevens has admitted that the traps he set were illegal.”