Sparrowhawk killer fined

Beth Markey

Tuesday 25 February 2020

Sparrowhawk killer fined

  • Yovanis Cruz, who keeps racing pigeons, admitted killing the protected hawk by firing ball bearings at it with a catapult after it attacked one of his birds
  • The crime was caught on CCTV by a neighbour’s camera
  • Cruz, who ‘acted without mercy’, was fined £801 at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court today (25 February)

A man who killed a protected sparrowhawk in his neighbour’s garden, using a catapult, has been spared jail but handed a fine of over £800.

Portsmouth resident, Yovanis Cruz, appeared at Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court today (25 February 2020) facing 1 charge of intention to kill a wild bird contrary to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. He pleaded guilty and was fined £653 plus £85 costs and a £63 victim surcharge.

Cruz, who keeps racing pigeons in his garden, was caught red-handed by his neighbour’s CCTV camera on 2 December 2019. The footage shows him sitting on his garden fence and a sparrowhawk - which has caught a pigeon - on the ground below. Cruz fires at the sparrowhawk twice, killing it, then attempts to recover the body with a rake.

The neighbour reported the incident to Hampshire Police and the RSPB who launched a joint investigation. A post-mortem revealed a ball-bearing lodged in the sparrowhawk’s skull.

Sparrowhawks are protected by law. The penalty for intentionally killing or harming one is an unlimited fine and/or up to six months imprisonment.

District Judge Gary Lucie said: “It was clearly an intentional offence. You did not act with any mercy especially as your pigeon escaped unhurt.

“You could have scared off the sparrowhawk so it would have flown off. Instead you carefully approached it and hit it with a single shot.”

He added: “It isn't a rare endangered species but is fully protected in law. It has a population of 35,000 which has been in decline for the last 10 years due to a number of problems.

“The RSPB say the persecution of raptors is a significant national problem.”

Earlier this month, a man in Scotland pleaded guilty to killing a sparrowhawk with an air rifle after it attacked one of his pigeons. He was fined £450.

Jenny Shelton from the RSPB’s Investigations Unit said: “All birds of prey are protected by law. Sparrowhawks were heavily persecuted in the past and sadly, despite legal protection, continue to be illegally killed. Between 2007-18, 49 sparrowhawks were victims of illegal persecution, and these are only the ones we know about. Statistics also show that, of all raptor persecution convictions since 1990, ‘pigeon fanciers’ make up over 5%.

“We would like to thank Hampshire Constabulary for their thorough investigation and hope that this serves as an example to others that killing a bird of prey is unacceptable and has consequences.”

“We are also grateful to the individual who did the right thing and reported this crime. If you find a dead or injured bird of prey in suspicious circumstances, or witness a crime against a bird of prey, please contact the police immediately on 101, and report it to the RSPB on Your call could make all the difference.”

You can also report crimes against birds of prey to the RSPB online at: Wild Bird Crime Report Form



For further information and to arrange an interview, please contact: Jenny Shelton, RSPB investigations liaison officer, on 01767 693024 or email

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Editor’s notes:

  1. The RSPB is the UK’s largest nature conservation charity, inspiring everyone to give nature a home. Together with our partners, we protect threatened birds and wildlife so our towns, coast and countryside will teem with life once again. We play a leading role in BirdLife International, a worldwide partnership of nature conservation organisations.
  2. Birdcrime 2018 was published on 29 August 2019, detailing the incidents of raptor persecution reported to the RSPB during 2018 and the wider problem of bird of prey persecution in the UK. For more information go to:
  3. The Raptor Persecution Map Hub is the most complete, centralised set of known confirmed raptor persecution incidents in the UK. Use it to quickly and easily see where crimes have taken place and find out more about them. Search by year or location:

Last Updated: Thursday 16 December 2021

Tagged with: Country: England Topic: UK bird species Topic: Sparrowhawk Topic: England Topic: Casework Topic: News topics