Thursday, 29 April 2010


A GAMEKEEPER convicted of firearms offences died after taking poison which he smuggled into court in his sock.
An inquest into the death of Graham Key heard how he was not searched by a custody officer before entering the dock at Derby Crown Court, despite it being company policy.
After being jailed for two years and taken down to the cells, he was then found in a distressed state.
He told staff he had taken the poison strychnine, for which there is no antidote.
Despite desperate attempts to revive the 48-year-old, he was pronounced dead an hour later in hospital.
The inquest heard that in the days leading up to the case on August 7, 2008, Mr Key had told friends and family he "could not go to prison" and had become increasingly distressed.
His wife, Rachel, told the inquest she had seen him visibly upset the night before the sentencing but did not believe her husband would take his own life.
She said: "He said that he knew what he was going to do. I thought he was just getting it all out of his system. I was a bit more positive and said we just had to try and think positive.
"I did not think he would leave the kids, I did not think he would go through with it."
Family friend John Ayre described Mr Key as an "out-and-out country man" who was "loved by everyone".
He told the jury how he watched his friend become "quieter and sadder" in the weeks before the court date as he was concerned about being handed a prison sentence.
Mr Ayre said: "A custodial sentence to him would be like putting a lion in a bird cage. He was a country, outdoors person. None of us knew what he was going to do, which is tragic."
The hearing was told Mr Key, who had no previous convictions, was initially arrested in February 2008 after police and RSPCA staff executed a warrant at his home at Alkmonton, near Ashbourne – acting on intelligence over suspected badger baiting.
While carrying out a search, officers discovered two unlicensed firearms. No charges were brought against Mr Key in relation to the suspected badger baiting but he was charged with firearms offences.
Three bottles of strychnine, a banned poison commonly used in pest control, were also found during the search.
The jury was told how police consulted English Nature about what to do with the poison. They were advised to leave the bottles and an enforcement officer would contact Mr Key to help arrange their disposal.
During the inquest yesterday, Mr Key's wife and his son, Ben, said they believed all the strychnine had been disposed of correctly and that there was none left on the premises.
But a blood sample taken from Mr Key after his death showed a "toxic" level of the poison in his system.
A blue plastic cup and blue "wrap" found in his cell also showed traces of the poison, which Mr Key was known to have used in his pest control work.
The inquest is due to continue today


Tim Bonner of the Countryside Alliance, said: "The prosecutions of Mr Leadbetter have raised hugely important questions about the legal process.

"A completely innocent man has spent two years clearing his name at the cost of over £250,000 to the taxpayer all because the police and CPS chose to pursue prosecutions based on the spurious allegations and unauthorised surveillance evidence of animal rights activists.
Earlier this month a judge in the case against a Dorset hunt terrier man asked for guidance as to whether secret filming by antis was subject to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA) — which gives police and local authorities permission to undertake surveillance (news, 7 January).

The CPS clarification adds that if the police force does not encourage or initiate the surveillance, authorisation is not necessary. But that evidence may not stand up in court.


Soloman said...

certainly not the first time and wont be the last that the dispicable practices of the arse pca have caused someone to take their own life, the arse pca are nothing more than animal rights extremists who are happy to leave peoples lifes in tatters if they can save a fluffy bunny.

Anonymous said...

no suprise at all, rspca should be ashamed

BBC said...

how can ordinary members of the public (like the rspca) go around video taping people going about their lawful business, and the use the spurious results as evidence, the police and local authorities etc are bound by RIPA regulations and have to jump through hoops to get permission to do this.

Queenie said...

How many more deaths are the Stasi going to be responsible for?
A friend of mine recently died from the stress of dealing with the rspca... she had Diabetes and complications brought on by stress.
She was only 45.
RSPCA now have HUMAN blood on their hands too!