Seagull beaten to death by Seaton man

Seaton man in court after CCTV showed him beating a seagull to death

A SEATON man used a large plank of wood to beat a young seagull to death - unaware he was being filmed.

John Steven, 29, of Harepath Road, broke both its wings and fractured its skull before it died.

This week he pleaded guilty to intentionally killing a bird protected by the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

Central Devon Magistrates watched footage from two different CCTV cameras which recorded the attack at Bradford’s Building Merchants depot in Harbour Road, where Steven works.

But the court accepted his story that he had believed the seagull was injured and was putting it out of its misery.

Prosecuting for the RSPCA, John Wyatt said Steven used a sizeable bulk of timber to beat the gull to death.

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A post mortem showed its wings and skull were broken in the attack and the bird was likely to have died from trauma to the head.

He said the CCTV footage showed the bird had been flapping its wings and walking healthily before the beating.

“It was likely to have caused considerable stress and pain before its death,” he said.

Afterwards Steven disposed of the body between two buildings and then went back to work.

Questioned by RSPCA officials he could not explain why he did it.

On Monday Steven told the court he had not intentionally set out to kill the bird. When he first saw the gull it was under the wheels of a truck and he thought it had been hurt.

“I picked up the wood to shoo it out and then, stupidly, I thought the best thing to do was put it out of its misery. I realise now that was not my decision to make.”

Mr Steven said he had made a stupid human error.

“It is not something I would ever do again. I love wildlife,” he added.

Steven was given a six month conditional discharge and told to pay �200 costs.

After the case RSPCA Inspector Pete Barton told The Herald: “People need to realise that these birds are protected.”