Judge Christopher Hodson today at Warwick Crown Court sentenced Mr. Jeffrey Lendrum to 30 months in prison. Lendrum, 48, from York Close, Towcester, Northamptonshire, was found in possession of 14 peregrine falcon eggs wrapped in socks and strapped to his body when he was detained on 3 May at Birmingham International Airport . The 14 eggs had been stolen by Lendrum from four separate peregrine nests in South Wales. Investigators believe they were stolen to order for an Arab falconer in Dubai and were valued at £70,000 on the black market.
Sentencing Lendrum, Judge Hodson said: “These were eggs you had removed from the wild in Wales and you would have reduced the number of these high-level endangered species in the wild, birds which enhance the attraction of the countryside to all. I quote the words of a Lord Justice of Appeal (Lord Justice Sedley) when he says, ‘environmental crime, if established, strikes not only at a locality and its population but in some measure to the planet and its future’. Nobody should be allowed to doubt its seriousness or to forget that one side of the environmental story is always untold‘. I adopt these words to express the gravity of what you did.”
The court was also told that Lendrum a former member of the Rhodesian SAS had previous convictions for similar offences in Zimbabwe and Canada for stealing rare eggs and had at one stage abseiled from a helicopter to reach a remote nest.
Investigators described Lendrum – who pleaded guilty at Warwick Crown Court – as “the highest level of wildlife criminal” and said the case was one of the most serious of its kind in decades.
Judge Christopher Hodson was told the eggs were destined to be used for falconry in Dubai, where breeders will pay thousands of pounds on the black market for eggs snatched from the wild.
He was caught after a cleaner working in the Emirates business class lounge of the airport spotted him dashing in and out of a shower.
When she went to investigate the shower had not been used and she called in counter-terrorist officers, fearing Lendrum had a more sinister purpose.
Lendrum was charged with taking 14 eggs of a wild bird from a nest, possessing eggs of a wild bird and attempting to evade export restrictions on prohibited goods.
Outside court Lendrum’s brother-in-law Calvin Maughan said: “After his divorce he was hoping to return to Africa where he works on a safari. He didn’t realise the severity of the case.”
Det Chief Insp Alex Murray, from West Midlands Police’s counter terrorism unit, said Lendrum “had a lifelong passion for stealing eggs and exporting them”.
Of the 14 taken, 12 chicks hatched and 11 of them survived and were returned to the wild in Scotland
Follow the link below to hear what Guy Shorrock from the RSPB told the BBC’s Claire Marshall the birds were ”victims of human greed” and Lendrum stood to make ”tens of thousands of pounds” from his crimes.