A gamekeeper has been found guilty of killing and injuring protected birds of prey on an estate.

George Mutch, 48, was secretly filmed catching raptors in two bird traps while working on Kildrummy Estate near Alford in Aberdeenshire in 2012.

Hidden cameras were set up by the RSPB as part scientific research into how Larsen and a larger multi-catch trap were being used on the land.

The damning footage revealed Mutch had killed a juvenile goshawk by taking it out of a trap and hitting it with a stick several times on the head.

He had placed a jackdaw and jay bird in a decoy compartment in the Larsen trap on separate occasions to lure raptors into wooden cages set up in pheasant dens.

The gamekeeper was filmed putting a buzzard and another goshawk in white sacks then walking out of view of the cameras on two other occasions.

The court heard the traps were set at a season not normally associated with catching small birds from the Corvid family such as crows and ravens.

Only one small bird was caught during the filming period between August and September and the wood pigeon was immediately set free from the trap.

Sheriff Noel McPartlin said he was of the view that the preponderance of evidence pointed to a scheme of trapping birds of prey.

And he said he believed that the gamekeeper's attempt to justify killing the goshawk was just a "convenient lie".

Mutch, of Auchnavenie, Kildrummy, was found guilty of four charges at Aberdeen Sheriff Court.

He was convicted of using traps to capture wild birds and found guilty of three charges of intentionally or recklessly killing or injuring two goshawks and a common buzzard.

The court heard he faces a possible jail sentence. Sentence was deferred for reports until next month.