Director cleared of kicking pigeon to death after Crown misplace bird

Perth Sheriff Court.
Perth Sheriff: Charges were dropped against Alan McIntee.

A company director has been cleared of kicking a pigeon to death after prosecutors admitted they had lost the bird.

Alan McIntee, 42, was cleared of charges after the 16-month case collapsed.

Perth Sheriff Court heard how the pigeon at the centre of a lengthy investigation disappeared after being taken into police custody and stored in the freezer.

Thousands of pounds were spent prosecuting the case including veterinary fees to carry out a post-mortem on the dead bird before it went missing.

Throughout proceedings, dating back to September 2011, Mr McIntee freely admitted kicking the bird twice to "put it out of its misery" after finding it injured.

He was formally found not guilty after the Crown tried to change the charge against him at the end of the prosecution evidence.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis said it would not be fair to the businessman to let the Crown change the charge from "threatening and abusive behaviour" to a breach of the peace.

Outside court, Mr McIntee, from Errol Station, said: "This has cost me thousands of pounds in what I have had to pay my solicitor and the time I have had to take off work.

"I am disappointed it has taken so long. It is not just the financial cost, but it has caused emotional turmoil for me and my family for nearly 18 months.

"I think I have had to come to court on a total of 14 occasions for this case. I have had defence witnesses here and they have also lost wages as a result."

At the conclusion of the Crown evidence, fiscal depute Rebecca Kynaston conceded that the charge facing Mr McIntee had not been proven at all.

She asked the court to consider a Crown motion to change the charge to breach of the peace, but that was refused and Mr McIntee was told he had no case to answer.

Sheriff Foulis said the Crown had "clearly foundered" and that any motion to amend the charge should have been made prior to the start of evidence being heard.

He said: "It wouldn't be fair to the accused to allow the Crown motion."

The court had heard during an earlier pre-trial hearing that the Crown would not be able to produce the bird in court as its whereabouts were no longer known by the police.

During the evidence, the court heard how Mr McIntee confessed in his original statement to kicking the bird at the Ladeside Business Unit in Perth on September 26, 2011.

In October 2011, he said: "I carried out some vermin control in both my units and terminated pigeons by shooting them. Later that afternoon I saw a pigeon when I opened up. It was in pain as its wing was in the wrong place. I kicked it twice. The main thing was that I put the pigeon out of its misery. My intention was to kill the pigeon."

Eyewitness Thomas Cunningham, 36, said he was parked outside McIntee's business unit in Perth when he was initially attracted by feathers flying through the air. He said he had picked up the bird and taken it to police.