A PENSIONER dubbed Scotland’s prince of poachers has finally lost the right to legally own a firearm.
James Kennedy was convicted of poaching for the fourth time last year.
The 72-year-old, who has twice been jailed for the offence, then had his firearms certificate cancelled by police, meaning he could no longer use his £2500 Sako rifle and silencer.
Kennedy challenged the decision but on Wednesday a sheriff threw out his appeal.
The decision brings to an end the illicit career of a poaching legend who was a familiar sight around Fort William in his Jaguar with the registration 5TAG.
Kennedy lives in a £500,000 hillside bungalow he named Tigh na Feidh – Gaelic for House of the Deer.
Locals refer to his house as venison villa.
Sheriff Richard Davidson upheld the police civil action in a written judgment.
He stated that Kennedy “was no longer a fit person to be entrusted to be the holder of a firearms certificate”.
Kennedy told the court his poaching career had started as a 12-year-old.
Last year, Fort William Sheriff Court heard Kennedy had been caught when DNA testing was used for the first time in a poaching case.
Police matched a stag shot illegally on 9000-acre Glenfinnan Estate to blood found in the former fencing contractor’s van.
As Kennedy has been jailed twice for poaching offences local estate owners were shocked when Sheriff Davidson finied him £100 last year.
The sheriff smiled at the details of Kennedy’s Glenfinnan escapade, which he admitted, saying: “It seems old habits die hard.”
When Kennedy’s lawyer told the sheriff there had been a gap of several years in his client’s appearances in court which meant he had been of good behaviour, the sheriff replied, “or wasn’t caught”.
At his appeal, Kennedy told how he started his working life as an assistant gamekeeper but sometimes had to do his boss’s job.
He said: “Sometimes the head-keeper would say ‘I’m off for a dram’ and would not return for two weeks.”
And Morar gamekeeper Robert Grant, 47, who gave evidence for the police, said he only met Kennedy once:“and that was sitting next to him at a table at the Poacher’s Ball at Roy Bridge several years ago”.
Police found out Kennedy had been paid £20,000 by a local game dealer for supplying deer to him for just three years.
Kennedy was unavailable for comment on losing the appeal.
A local estate factor who asked not to be named yesterday commented: “James is an OK guy but a legendary poacher all his days in the west Highlands.
“I think he quite enjoys the notoriety and the title Prince of Poachers. I just wonder if his poaching days are really over despite the loss of his firearms certificate.”
Outside court following his conviction in February, 2015, Kennedy was asked if that was him finished with poaching.
He replied: “Of course,” and winked.