Sunderland pigeon killer walks free after shooting bird

Steven Thompson leaves Sunderland Magistrates' Court.
Steven Thompson leaves Sunderland Magistrates' Court.

A man who shot a pigeon dead with an air rifle before being spotted carrying the weapon in public has avoided jail.

Steven Thompson, 39, fired a shot from his back garden in Hewitt Avenue, Hollycarrside, on April 7, Sunderland magistrates heard.

Steven Thompson

Steven Thompson

After striking the bird, it fell from a tree onto land beyond his garden, landing in Edgemond Court.

Prosecutor Jeanette Smith said: “Police were informed a male had been seen with a weapon in a blue Mini motor vehicle.

“As a result, they attended the registered keeper’s address and spoke to the defendant.

“He admitted straight away that he had used the air rifle.

Given your use of illegal drugs and steroids it is no surprise you have mental health problems

District Judge Roger Elsey

“He stated that he had been inside his rear garden and there has been a pigeon in a tree.

“After it was shot, it fell beyond the boundary of the defendant’s property.

“That led him to get into his car and drive around to where the bird had fallen from the tree and put it in his wheelie bin.”

Thompson had previously admitted possession of a loaded or unloaded air weapon in a public place, killing a non-Schedule 1 wild bird and failing to surrender to court bail, on June 14.

He has 21 previous convictions for 42 offences, the court heard.

Ian Jordan, defending, said Thompson has mental health problems, including borderline personality disorder. He also suffers from an overactive thyroid and diabetes.

“He tells me he likes shooting targets in his garden, because a previous psychiatric nurse told him he should occupy himself.

“On this occasion he has shot over his back garden. It’s a high wall, so he gets in his car and he drives around the property.

“He has then been outside his property, in a public place, in possession of the air weapon.”

Probation officer Paul Grace said: “It’s a strange case, made more difficult because Mr Thompson is not the easiest person to interview.

“He shows signs of anxiety and paranoia and is visibly agitated.

“It became apparent that he has very little insight of the impact of his behaviour.

“He doesn’t see the killing of the bird as an offence and doesn’t understand the impact of taking the weapon outside and driving with it visible to the public.

“There is family in the property, he has children in the property, bearing in mind the circumstances of the offence.”

District judge Roger Elsey said: “Any sentence I impose has to take into account your problems with mental health.

“Given your use of illegal drugs and steroids it is no surprise you have mental health problems.

“To prevent reoffending, probation have to change the way you think and behave.”

Thompson was given a 12-month community order, with 30 days’ rehabilitation activity requirement. He was also told to pay a £100 fine, a £60 surcharge and £60 costs.

The judge added: “You must keep in touch with your probation officer, find out when your appointments, turn up for those appointments and do everything you are required to do, because if not, you will be brought back and be given a higher sentence.”