Bird breeder jailed for handling stolen parrots

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The Independent Online
A BIRD BREEDER was yesterday jailed for four years for handling five rare parrots worth pounds 54,000.

John Darker, 36, who was caught with the birds wrapped in sacks in his car boot, was told his sentence was designed to send a 'clear message' to others not to get involved in 'this increasingly prevalent' crime.

'I am satisfied that you were playing your part in a calculated, organised and serious crime,' Judge Giles Forrester told him.

Kingston Crown Court heard that the unemployed father of six from Bletchley, Buckinghamshire, was convicted last month after a trial at Truro Crown Court of handling the valuable parrots.

Tony Prosser, for the prosecution, said the birds were stolen last January from the Paradise Bird Sanctuary at Hayle, Cornwall.

Two days after the theft, police stopped his car in Cambridgeshire and found the birds. Three of the parrots, worth pounds 34,000, had since died.

The court was told that at the time he committed the offence Darker, who was cleared by the Truro jury of stealing the parrots but convicted of one charge of handling stolen goods, had been on bail for handling a boat, a boat cover and three marine engines in Leicestershire. He admitted that offence yesterday.

The judge jailed Darker for four years for handling the birds, with a concurrent 18 months for the offence involving the boat, cover and

engines.

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