Gas in court
THERE was consternation in Kennet magistrates' court on today when the bench withdrew while an empty canister of poison was removed from court.
The canister which used to contain the rodenticide Phostoxin was being introduced in evidence by barrister John Upton, who was defending Visconde Brita de Cunha de Pereiro Machada.
Mr Upton showed the bench the empty canister of Phostoxin and took the deep screw cap off to demonstrate how safe it was.
But prosecutor Philomena Craffield, after consulting with RSPB investigating officer Guy Shorrock, told the court there was concern about the safety of the canister and it should not be in court.
The bench retired while Viscount Machada removed the canister.
Miss Craffield explained that Phostoxin emitted the deadly Phosphene gas when it was mixed with water.
John Upton, defending, said the only reason the police had called at Mr Smart's house that morning was they were investigating the death of two buzzards and a magpie from poisoning.
Presiding magistrate Jill Pechey told Viscount Machada that, as an employer, he had a duty of care to provide the correct advice, training and guidance to Mr Smart.
The bench fined him £2,500 and a further £1,000 for permitting the poisons to be stored in an unsafe place. He was also ordered to pay £400 court costs.
Mr Smart was fined a total of £1,000 on all five offences and £100 costs.
Mr Upton successfully argued that costs should be paid to his client for the expense of obtaining expert help on the charge of poisoning wildlife, which had been dropped.
The £3,286 bill will be paid from public funds.
Note: There is no antidote to Phosphine poisoning and one sixth of a 3g tablet is a fatal dose for an adult - take it from an old Pesticide salesman it isn't something to mess with.