A PENSIONER hammered three great crested newts to death and posted their bodies to Natural England to protest that a huge colony of the rare amphibians in his garden pond was not being protected.

Retired property manager Brian Butcher, of Berkeley, threatened to keep on killing more of the species every week until Natural England took action, a court was told.

The father of two, of Canonbury Street, Berkeley, admitted four charges of killing and transporting the newts - offences against the Conservation of Species Regulations of 2010.

He told magistrate’s in Stroud on Tuesday that he had done it out of desperation and frustration after fighting for over four years against the 'incompetence and negligence' of Natural England wildlife protection officials and against a 'tyrant' local landowner.

Even though he had provided Natural England with evidence, they had refused to take action against the neighbouring landowner whom he believes is destroying great crested newt habitats, he said.

Mr Butcher, 75, has more than five hundred of the newts living in his pond and claims their habitat in the field adjoining his garden is under threat from the landowner, who has built three bungalows close to his home.

Magistrates said they accepted Mr Butcher had acted out of feelings of distress at what he perceived to be a threat to his newt colony.

They conditionally discharged him for two years and ordered him to pay £40 costs.

For more on this story see the Gazette on Thursday.