Two Boys Plead Guilty After Gunnersbury Park Break-in

Admit criminal damage and causing unnecessary suffering to animals

Missing barn owl, Shiraz (left) and the Capel Manor Gunnersbury Campus
Missing barn owl, Shiraz has now been found (left) and the Capel Manor Gunnersbury Campus (right)

March 15, 2024

Two boys aged 11 and 12 appeared at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Youth Court this Thursday (14 March) to face charges relating to a break-in at Gunnersbury Park last month.

On the night of 25 February, they entered the park breaking into Capel Manor College’s campus within the grounds and broke open enclosures in which animals were kept including rabbits, ferrets, snakes and birds and took some of them away.

The prosecution said that CCTV footage from the night showed them throwing animals down and stamping on them. Twenty animals died during the course of the evening.

Later, damage was done to the pitch and putt facility nearby and when police arrived on the scene, they found children inside the changing rooms at the Gunnersbury Park Sports Hall playing with a snake.

One of the birds released by the boys was a barn owl called Shiraz but it has since been recovered near Heathrow Airport.

The children pleaded guilty to causing criminal damage and unnecessary suffering to animals. The prosecution had wanted to see them charged with a more serious offence which would have made them directly responsible for the deaths of the animals.

The boys had claimed after their arrest that they had never intended to hurt any of the animals but dogs had gained entry to the facility when they broke in.

Both children were released on bail and will be sentenced at the same court on 4 April.

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