30th April 2018
A complex investigation undertaken by Kent Police recently saw London based Knightspur Homes convicted at Sevenoaks Magistrates Court on three counts of roost destruction. Sentencing was adjourned for consideration of a Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) confiscation order by the Crown Court.
On Tuesday 20th April Maidstone Crown Court ordered Knightspur Homes to pay a total of £20321.00 to the court within 7 days. On each charge the company was fined £4000, with costs of £3036. In addition an order was made requiring payment of £5285 under POCA.
The investigating officer PC Wayne Wright said: ‘In 2015 an ecology survey was commissioned at Eden Hall Estate, Edenbridge, to support a planning application for a proposed development. This was to build 20 new houses and covert the main building into flats. This survey revealed a number of species of bats throughout the site and recommendations were made to the company that a licence from Natural England would be required before any work was carried out on certain buildings.
‘In August 2016 one of the buildings, identified in the survey as containing roosting bats, was seen to have been demolished even though no licence as required for this process had been applied for or issued.’
This case, once again, sets a precedent in relation to the sentencing of offences relating to bats, and ably demonstrates the value of using POCA for wildlife offences. This was a particularly complex investigation and great credit has to be given to all those involved. In particular Kent Police, the National Wildlife Crime Unit and the Crown Prosecution Service. Well done all.