West Midlands Bird of Prey smuggler receives community service.

A BIRMINGHAM man has been sentenced for smuggling rare birds into the country from South Africa and trying to sell endangered species over the web. Brynn McDonagh from West Heath was arrested last October in a joint West Midlands Police and National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) investigation.

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Goshawk image by Terry Pickford


The inquiry revealed McDonagh had placed a Goshawk – a protected bird of prey which can only be traded by approved dealers – for sale on the internet.

And when officers searched his Fryer Road address they also found an unregistered Merlin, another restricted bird covered under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

McDonagh had already been warned about dealing in rare birds and handed a 10 month jail sentence, suspended for two years, in November 2010 for illegally importing 20 endangered species from Africa.

But as Birmingham Crown Court yesterday (April 27) heard how he’d continued flouting regulations, a judge ordered that he undertake 180 hours of unpaid work and pay court costs of £580. McDonagh also had a suspended sentence from a previous similar offence extended by six months.

West Midlands Police officer Phil Allen led the investigation. He said: “The suspended sentence was an opportunity for McDonagh to change his ways and to understand that these birds are protected for a reason.

“However, he continued to try and profit at the expense of endangered wildlife and has paid the penalty.”

McDonagh’s Goshawk had been legally imported from Austria in 1997 by a South Wales keeper for breeding purposes – it was given to him as “compensation” when it killed a bird McDonagh was hoping it would mate with.

The Animal Health Agency warned the 28-year-old it was illegal to try and sell the bird – but police later traced it to an address in Sunderland which proved he’d breached the sales restriction.

Andy McWilliam, Investigations Officer for the NWCU, added: “McDonagh has displayed a total disregard for international legislation which is there to protect endangered species against profiteering.

“To legally sell an Annex ‘A’ species like a Goshawk the seller must hold a permit issued by the Animal Health & Veterinary Laboratories Agency. McDonagh didn’t hold such a permit and deliberately flouted this vital legislation.”

McDonagh admitted selling a Goshawk contrary to the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations and keeping unregistered Merlin.

2 comments to West Midlands Bird of Prey smuggler receives community service.

  • Jimmy

    What is the point in suspended sentances when further offences are commited during that time and the person still doesn’t see jail??

  • John Salmon

    What was the Judge thinking. McDonagh was lucky not to go straight to jail the first time round and then he deliberately flouts the law during the period of his suspended sentence. What kind of message does this send out? Go ahead and break the law we don’t really care. Tough on crime – in your dreams!