A PENSIONER who beat a seagull to death with a broom handle in an "incredibly brutal" attack has been fined nearly £3,000.

Colin Tate trapped the bird behind a garden waste container and "battered him to death" at his home in Freshfield Road, Brighton.

Animal protection officers held a post-mortem that disproved the 73-year-old's claim that the bird was injured and he was "putting it out of its misery".

RSPCA inspector Liz Wheeler said: "The witness heard the bird screaming and then saw this man batter him to death with a broom handle.

“He had trapped the bird behind a garden waste container in the corner of the garden, so he couldn’t escape. We arrived and found the body of the gull lying over the other side of the fence.

“It was incredibly brutal. He later claimed the bird was injured and he was ‘putting him out of his misery’ - but a post mortem confirmed the bird had no significant health issues.

"In any case, we would urge anyone who discovers an injured bird to call us rather than inhumanely kill the animal themselves.”

Gulls and their nests are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and it is illegal to intentionally kill, take or injure wild birds. Action can only be taken against them under licence.

Herring gulls are in decline overall in the UK, research shows, and they are deemed a "species of conservation concern," the RSPCA said.

Tate pleaded guilty at Eastbourne Magistrates' Court yesterday (Friday November 20) to killing the wild bird, and was ordered to pay £2,757.20 in costs and fines.

Inspector Wheeler added: “We urge people to be tolerant towards all wildlife around them - including herring gulls, as overall the herring gull is actually a species in decline.

“The RSPCA believes that deterrents and non-lethal methods of control are the best way to reduce gull related problems. "Not feeding the gulls and disposing of rubbish properly, and blocking off areas where gulls normally nest outside of the breeding season will help to reduce the problems.

“Unfortunately many see the birds as pests but all it takes is a little care and understanding to minimise any inconvenience caused by gulls – they are normally just behaving in a natural way.”