A day out shooting pigeons with his sons landed a member of a prominent Highland landowning family in court.
Schoolteacher Frederick Campbell, 53, a member of the Cawdor family, had gone out with a £12,000 shotgun on to an estate field at Newton of Cawdor, about 110 yards away from nearby properties – but residents became concerned and contacted police.
Inverness Sheriff Court heard yesterday that officers arrived about 4pm on July 17 last year and approached Campbell, from Maidenhead.
He and his two sons stopped when spoken to by police. Checks showed Campbell did not have a valid certificate to use the 12 bore weapon.
He admitted the firearms offence but his plea of not guilty to recklessly discharging the shotgun over a public road and houses to the danger of people in the vicinity was accepted.
Fiscal depute Niall Macdonald told Sheriff Gordon Fleetwood the firearm was seized by police pending his court appearance.
Mr Macdonald asked the sheriff to forfeit the gun, but defence solicitor Alison Foggo said: “The value of the gun would make the penalty excessive.”
Ms Foggo explained that the gun was also held on the firearms certificate of the estate gamekeeper, who was busy at the time of the shoot, and was unable to accompany the trio.
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“If he had been there, there would have been no offence. My client agreed to oversee responsibility for the shoot but it was illegal to do so.
“He was divorced in 2016 which was around the time the certificate should have been renewed. The London address if his former matrimonial home was sold and he overlooked the renewal as he was adjusting to the divorce.
“He did not have actual possession of the gun as it was held by the gamekeeper on the estate and the urgency for him to renew was not urgent as he only shot once or twice a year. He has not shot since this offence and regrets causing concern to the neighbours.”
Ms Foggo described Campbell as “a considerate and law abiding citizen.”
Fining him £500, the sheriff told him: “You have held a certificate since 1987 and you knew what your obligations were.”
He refused the Crown motion to forfeit the gun which will be returned to the estate.
Afterwards, Cambell spoke outside court. He said: “I am very sorry that I have upset people. It was an oversight by me not to have a certificate at the time.
“I am now going to consider whether I am going to re-apply or if I am not going to shoot again.”