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Thursday, 23 October 2014

West Cumbrian women's bird-feeding conviction overturned

Feuding neighbours’ “unreliable evidence” saw two High Harrington women walk free from court after successfully overturning their conviction for feeding birds in their garden.

Monica and Janet McIntosh branded the dragged-out saga as their week from hell after a crown court trial in Carlisle.

The mother and daughter, of Broadacres, won an appeal against their convictions and sentences for breaching an abatement order to stop leaving food out for birds, served on them by Allerdale council in June last year.

The pair were found guilty of breaching the order at West Cumbria Magistrates Court in December and were fined £500 each.

Describing the relief, Janet vowed to continue to feed birds in her garden, and said: “Allerdale Borough Council should not put people through this.

“I blame them for not investigating properly. This has been out week from hell.”

Recorder Tim Smith said he was not satisfied with the evidence against the McIntoshes.

He added: “There is no reliable and direct evidence that either Monica or Janet were seen to feed the pigeons or put out regular feed in a way that would cause them to attract pigeons to the premises.”

But neighbour David Ellison, who had submitted a diary documenting the pair feeding pigeons and had photographs, said: “This is the British justice system gone mad.

“We now have to go home and live with these things.

“The McIntoshes weren’t even directed by the recorder to try and make the situation any better,”

Mr Ellison pledged to fight the appeal, and continue to monitor the situation as the abatement notice still stands.

Video evidence of pigeons feeding at the McIntoshes’ house on July 21 was noted, but Mr Smith was satisfied neither Monica or Janet were in the house that day.

He believed it was Alexander McIntosh, Monica’s husband, fed the birds on that occasion.

Evidence against the McIntoshes also came from neighbour Arthur McCullough, but Mr Smith felt it could not be relied on because he had previous disputes with the pair.

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