Two convicted of egg-collecting after two-year operation

 Thanks to South Devon’s pro-active Wildlife Crime Officer, PC  Josh Marshall, two men have been convicted today of stealing bird’s eggs and connected offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act after a two-year operation. Marcus Betteridge, 52 years from Jubilee Road in Totnes was fined £1,000 after he pleaded guilty to unlawful possession of warbler eggs. Seymour Crang, 49 years from Bittaford, near Ivybridge was also fined £1,000 after pleading guilty to unlawful possession of wild bird’s eggs. Both men were ordered to pay £200 costs.
 Crang eggs
 
Egg found after a search by police  at Crang’s home
 The convictions follow a two-year operation between the Police, RSPB and the National Wildlife Crime Unit under an operation code named Blackwell.

Joint intelligence gathering and partnership working culminated in the execution of search warrants in November 2010 at the home addresses of both Betteridge and Crang, when property relating to the charges was seized, including wild bird eggs, collecting equipment, photographs and diaries relating to activities at nest sites of wild birds.

Following further investigation by the three agencies, sufficient evidence was gathered to interview and subsequently charge both men.

The officer in case, Police Constable Josh Marshall, a Wildlife Crime officer commented after the hearing, “This prosecution and sentencing today highlights the benefits of joint partnership working in tackling wildlife crime and the determination to bring offenders to justice.

“This should send a clear message to persons engaged in such criminal activity that they will be identified and brought to justice”.

Guy Shorrock, senior investigations officer at the RSPB headquarters, said: “Mr Betteridge was in the premier league of egg collectors in this country for more than 20 years.”

The prosecutions were brought after a joint raid on both men’s homes in 2010 revealed the collection of bird eggs, belonging to Mr Crang, an unemployed bricklayer. There were five eggs of a lesser redpoll, four of a tree pipit, five linnet eggs and one of a redshank, all kept in a cotton-wool lined ice cream carton. A diary belonging to Mr Betteridge, running to hundreds of pages with detailed notes covering more than a decade of activity was also found.

Mark Haddow, prosecuting, said Mr Betteridge, a builder and odd job man, had once been an associate of Britain’s most notorious egg collector, Colin Watson, who died in 2006 after falling from a tree collecting eggs.

Mr Haddow said only two years’ activity was subject to prosecution, but claimed the RSPB believed the document showed him to be a “serial lawbreaker”.

Mr Betteridge, who has three previous convictions including attempting to steal golden eagle’s eggs in Scotland, admitted only one offence, on April 25 last year, that of disturbing the warbler. Mr Crang was said to have had one previous conviction – a £3,000 fine after being caught with 1,212 eggs, some from schedule 1 birds

Nigel Butt, defending, said the men were not “criminals and fundamentalists”.

Both appeared at Newton Abbot Magistrates Court today 6-11-2012.

2 comments to Two convicted of egg-collecting after two-year operation

  • paul williams

    Marcus Betteridge & Seymour Craig,you have both been NAMED&SHAMED ON Facebook

  • Theo Hopkins

    I live in Devon and I am pleased wth this conviction.
    However, I do hope after our PCC election that PC Josh Marshall, the policeman involved in ths case, will continue to recieve the backing of Tony Hogg, the new Conservative PCC.

    I gather that Josh Marshall is a volunteer in the wildlife officer post; I am not exactly clear what this means, however (perahps someone could comment on this).

    However, I am worried that with a Conservative PCC it could be that crime involving birds of prey may be sidelined as the ethos within the Conservative party seems to be that birds of prey come under the clasification of “vermin”. Think Richard Benyon :(