Man jailed for smuggling falcons' eggs

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A businessman was jailed for 30 months today after he admitted trying to smuggle the eggs of a rare peregrine falcon to Dubai.

Jeffrey Lendrum, 48, was caught with 14 eggs strapped to his body at Birmingham International Airport on May 3 after he was spotted acting suspiciously by a cleaner.

He had wrapped the eggs, worth £70,000, in socks before taping them to his chest.

Today Lendrum, of Towcester, Northamptonshire, admitted one count of trying to export the eggs illegally and a second charge of stealing them from a nest in South Wales during a hearing at Warwick Crown Court.

The court heard the 14 eggs were destined for falconries in Dubai, where breeders will pay thousands of pounds on the black market for eggs snatched from the wild.

Lendrum had previous convictions in Zimbabwe and Canada for stealing rare eggs and had at one stage abseiled from a helicopter to reach a remote nest.

He was caught after a cleaner working in the Emirates business class lounge of Birmingham International Airport spotted him dashing in and out of the shower.

When she went to investigate the shower had not been used and she called in counter-terrorist officers, fearing the defendant had a more sinister purpose.

The court heard there were only 1,400 breeding pairs of Peregrine falcons in the UK and the birds were regarded as one of the most endangered species.

Jailing Lendrum, Judge Christopher 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. You have had two previous warnings of the consequences of dealing with wild protected birds and now you have come to the UK and offended.

"These offences plainly pass the custody threshold for the reasons that I have mentioned, and pass it by a long way."