Pigeon feeding conviction overturned

Two West Cumbrian women have won an appeal against their conviction for illegally feeding pigeons in their garden. Monica and Janet McIntosh from High Harrington were each fined £500 and ordered to pay £1200 costs for breaching an abatement order served by Allerdale Borough Council.

A judge today concluded that there was insufficient evidence to uphold that conviction.

Monica and Janet McIntosh told the court they began feeding garden birds when they moved to Broadacres in 2004. Monica said pigeon numbers steadily increased and 2 years ago they began putting out pigeon food to try and stop them from eating seed for smaller birds.

Neighbours had complained about the problems caused by noise and pigeon droppings and in June last year Allerdale Council served the pair with an abatement order that prevented them from putting out food that would attract pigeons. Last December the women were taken to court by the council for breaching that order and fined - a conviction that was overturned in court today.

Our reporter Kim Inglis asked Janet McIntosh outside Carlisle Crown court if anyone had won as a result:

"Not really no I don't think so - I just don't want the council doing this to anyone else, I blame the council really, they should have investigated properly before they put this on us "She added:"I think it's the council that should be dealing with it, if there's a problem, they should be dealing with it."

– Janet McIntosh

Monica McIntosh told the court yesterday that she and her daughter continue to feed small wild birds using 20 kilos of seed a week. Nearby residents are concerned as the pigeons still appear in great numbers on a daily basis.

One of the neighbours told us:

"I'm very disappointed, I feel that something, even if they were found not guilty, which they have been of course, some other recommendation should have been made by the judge..."

– Neighbour, David Ellison

The defence argued that throughout throughout the hearing there had been no expert independent evidence to prove that the reason the pigeons keep returning is because they are being fed. That neither Monica nor Janet had fed pigeons since the order was introduced. Husband and father Alexander McIntosh told the court during the 4 day hearing that he had fed pigeons since that date because he wasn't affected by the order. The judge, Recorder Tim Smith agreed with the defence and while he said dvd evidence shown in court resembled a scene from a Hitchcock film, this was not Hollywood and there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Monica or Janet McIntosh had breached the abatement order and so upheld their appeal.