Britain’s most imprisoned egg collector doing “Bird” again.

[singlepic id=291 w=118 h=118 float= left]Today [Tuesday 13 December, 2011], Matthew Gonshaw (49) of Cherrywood Close, Bow in East London, has extended his infamy for being Britain’s most imprisoned egg collector by being sentenced to yet another jail term, for six months, following conviction for stealing and possessing wild birds eggs, including those of some of the rarest and most threatened birds in the UK.

Gonshaw, who has already been jailed on three previous occasions for similar offences, pleaded guilty at Thames Magistrates Court earlier today to 10 charges.

Gonshaw’s home in East London was raided by officers from the Metropolitan Police and RSPB Investigations unit on 2 June this year. Nearly 700 eggs were found at the premises.

Gonshaw faced 10 charges, including taking five golden eagle eggs and 12 avocet eggs from the wild, and possessing eggs from specially-protected species, including: seven golden eagle eggs; eight osprey eggs; 12 avocet eggs; three peregrine eggs; three red kite eggs; and 12 eggs of other specially protected species. The remaining wild birds eggs were all illegally held but were from species not covered by Schedule 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

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Mark Thomas is an investigations officer with the RSPB who has been working on this case. Speaking from Thames Magistrates Court, Mark Thomas said: “We believe the introduction of custodial sentences in 2001 for the most serious wildlife crime cases has forced most of Britain’s egg collectors to throw in the towel. But it is clear that Gonshaw’s obsession drives him to target the rarest birds in Britain, where the prospects of jail or depriving the country of threatened species are simply dismissed.”

PC Stephen Rodgers, of the Metropolitan Police, has been involved with the case. He said: “We hope that this result here at court sends a clear message that – together with our partners from the RSPB – we will work to protect Britain’s birds for future generations. Gonshaw’s actions directly jeopardize Britain’s wildlife and his obsession with collecting eggs threatens some of Britain’s rarest and most precious species.”

The RSPB’s Brian Etheridge has been monitoring Scotland’s birds of prey for the Society for 20 years. Commenting on the sentence, he said: “Birds like ospreys have travelled thousands of miles from Africa to lay their single clutch of eggs. But egg collectors like Gonshaw can bring all that year’s effort to an end in a single act of selfish obsession”.

Becky Owen, reviewing lawyer for the Crown Prosecution Service in London, said: “We have worked closely with the RSPB and the Met Police Wildlife Crime Unit to secure this conviction and our hope is it sends out a strong message about the seriousness of these crimes. Matthew Gonshaw’s criminal actions caused untold damage to wildlife in the UK. He has plundered nearly 700 eggs, including some from endangered species such as golden eagles and ospreys.”

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Gonshaw’s conviction has solved a few mysteries, as Brian Etheridge explains: “I have been monitoring several of the nests that Gonshaw has raided. We can’t watch the nests all the time, so we weren’t sure, until now, why these birds had failed.”

Egg collectors make small holes in the eggs to blow out the contents to leave just the calcium shell. Mark Thomas added: “Egg collectors like to keep the eggs as intact as possible, so they will sometimes inject chemicals into the egg to dissolve the chick or they will make a small incision to cut up the chick so they can be removed piece by piece. It is clear from Gonshaw’s collection that some of the eggs contained developing chicks, possibly close to hatching.”

8 comments to Britain’s most imprisoned egg collector doing “Bird” again.

  • paul williams

    A very welcome prosecution and conviction for our wildlife, congratulations to the RSPB, The Metropolitan police and Mark Thomas RSPB Investigation Officer.

  • I do NOT understand this. Knowing all his history and repeat offenses, why does he get only six months? If he had broken into Buckingham Palace and stolen the Crown Jewels would he have gotten six moths? If he had repeatedly burglarized houses would he have gotten only six months. If he had repeatedly committed raped would he have gotten only six month?
    Well, he has stolen from your national treasury, he has raped nature, and stolen from your land trust. Why is he only getting six month. He need to be put where he can never commit this crime again. You need the three strike policy like we have her in the US!

    Editor’s Comment.. Well said Renee, the sentances being handed down for wildlife crime in the UK are no deterent at all. He should have been convicted of treason for destroying State Assets.

  • paul williams

    Red kites attack schoolchildren and steal their packed lunches –
    Schoolkids have been banned from playing outside – after being mugged by birds of prey.

  • While I have no time for egg collectors it has to be said that they pose nothing like the threat to our rare birds that gamekeepers do. A persistent collector can prevent breeding taking place, but is no threat to the adult birds, unlike some keepers whom often destroy eggs/young and and parent birds, but rarely get sent to prison. Egg collecting was very common in the past but never wiped out any species.

  • paul williams

    Planning law changes: MPs call for rethink in bid to preserve countryside
    A scheme by Communities Secretary Eric Pickles (pictured) which aims to tilt the planning system in favour of ‘sustainable’ development would undermine the environment, a group of MPs said yesterday.