Smuggler jailed for £70k peregrine falcon egg theft

[singlepic id=184 w=320 h=240 float=left]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.

After the eggs were found on his body, Lendrum, who was travelling on an Irish passport, claimed they were chicken eggs, the court was informed.[singlepic id=185 w=320 h=240 float=right]

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.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11024923

New information:

Raptor Politics have been tipped off that the convicted smuggler may have been working with a female accomplice who appears boarded the same plane to Dubai with a number of additional eggs concealed beneath her clothing. We are treating this detail on face value, we are unable to corroborate the information we have received.

Footnote: 

During the last 3 breeding seasons alone, a total of 28 peregrine falcon eggs have disappeared from just 8 peregrine nests in Lancashire’s Forest of Bowland: If the court today placed a value of 70K on the 14 peregrine eggs recovered at Birminham International Airport, the value of the eggs lost from Bowland nesting sites amounts to a staggering 140K 

15 comments to Smuggler jailed for £70k peregrine falcon egg theft

  • Mal Taylor

    At long last, a judge who seems to have grasped that serious wildlife crime deserves serious sentencing.
    Also well done to those responsible in successfully returning these birds to the wild. This required the efforts of the Police, The National wildlife crime unit, DEFRA, RSPB, Lothian and Borders Raptor Study Group and the falconers who hand reared these birds after hatching.

    • Skydancer

      Perhaps someone may be able to arrange for all gamekeepers accused of killing protected raptors to be sentenced by the same enlightened Judge!

  • John Miles

    The easy way to stop the ‘bad old days’ is for the government to start issuing licenses to take chicks again for this bird. Not only will it stop the wide spread killing of this bird especially on Red Grouse moors but reduce the increase price in these birds in Arabia.

    • Skydancer

      I wish to clarify for anyone who is interested, a true falco peregrinus, peregrine falcon to you and me, the current retail cost of a peregrine from captive breeding sources, is less than £1000 for a first class female. Where the media obtain these ridiculously inflated prices is just unbelievable. No one would pay £5000 for a peregrine let alone a single egg, so take note all you prospective criminal entrepreneurs

  • DorsetOwl

    I dont think he should of been given 30 months ! much bloody longer if I had my way – he will be out in a year’s time..

  • Circus maximus

    We should licence the removal of chicks from the wild population- so that they can live the life of a fashion item in Saudi for a year, then be killed to make way for the next wild chick?

    The idea that if the wid birds had a real financial value, then the population would be encouraged to spread so that it could be harvsted, does sound attractive….until you give consideration to the fate of the birds and why they would be harvested. The morals dont stack up. Its like giving grouse a value and ecouraging keepers to kill off everything bar the grouse.

  • John Miles

    Sadly Red Grouse do have a value hence why they do kill every thing off.

  • Dave

    Having an enlightened judge is one thing Skydancer, having the evidence to find the accused guilty proves to be a real issue!

  • Thank goodness for the observant worker at the airport, you deserve a medal, this despicable man should serve his sentence and then be deported, let him go back to South Africa, we don’t want his kind here. We need more judges like the one who sentenced this criminal, this judge certainly put a value on these birds. I hope this sends out a message to all those who steal these birds eggs and shoot them, your come uppance is just around the corner.

  • nirofo

    I must say I am totally amazed at this result, are you sure it isn’t just a hoax. An English judge with a conscience for the welfare of the environment is unprecedented and should be applauded by everyone. I wait to see if this is the beginning of a trend or just a one off, I may have to wait a long time !!!

    I honestly can’t see this happening in Scotland where wildlife crime is rampant and totally out of control, too many sheriffs, judges, chief constables, MSP’s and other persons in high positions, all with vested interests in the shooting estates remaining at status quo to allow this to happen.

    nirofo.

  • jock scott

    What planet does John Miles live on? I’ve read some absolute nonsense from him on many web forums but this simplistic drivel must really take the biscuit.
    How exactly would the government issuing licences to remove peregrine falcons from nests “stop the wide spread killing of this bird especially on Red Grouse moors”?
    When these licences were issued usually a gamekeeper would “keep” a nest until the chick or chicks were removed he would then receive a hefty payment and then the remaining chicks and parents were killed.
    John Miles appears to have the same opinion as Alex Hogg (chairman of The Scottish Gamekeepers’ Association)legalise the persecution of raptors and the problem of illegal persecution of raptors disappears, pure genius! Perhaps we could use this throughout the judicial system, when we legalise rape, robbery, burglary etc we’ll see the crime figures drop like a buzzard with a bellyful of carbofuran.
    The battle against raptor persecution will be won by realistic sentencing where the worst offenders are imprisoned and their employers are held accountable for their actions.

    Jock Scott

  • John Miles

    Such a clever man!! How many land owners have been prosecuted? answer nil. Were you around when peregrines were worth something to game keepers? Answer nil. Sorry son try mother care.

  • barbary boy

    trust me, there is a lot more to this story than has been reported. fertile peregrine eggs are worth no more than a couple of hundred pounds, at the most, and there really isnt a big demand for them. im sure there are some breeders out there laundering a few but captive breeding is now providing plenty of genuine birds for everyone. the problem is that there has been no legal take for quite some time now and the captive “flock” could do with some new genes now and then. so there is a demand for “new blood” the story is, as usual bollocks?

  • Matthew

    Recently a Swedish man was sentenced to FOUR years in Dubai as he had eaten a poppy seed roll in London cafe, and 3 tiny poppy seeds fell onto his clothing. They were detected by ultra sensitive equipment used to enforce Dubai’s crazy drugs laws. Another man, a British man, stepped on a piece of cannabis weighing less than a grain of sugar…again, he was ‘caught’ and received the mandatory four years. I wonder what they would do to the man ordering these eggs? I’ll tell you…nothing. Falconry is the sport of the spoilt Arab royals…they’d probably think it a pity the eggs never got through from the country of infidels.

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