'Addicted' collector of rare birds' eggs is jailed

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The Independent Online

An obsessive collector of birds' eggs, who confessed in a television programme that he was addicted to taking them, became the first person in Britain to be jailed for the crime yesterday.

Barry Sheavils, 41, from Blyth, Northumberland, was jailed for four months under legislation that allows courts to impose prison sentences of up to six months. He admitted possessing three goshawk eggs, four goosander eggs, and possessing, with intent to commit an offence, a tin with compartments for eggs.

The eggs were found during a police raid on Sheavils' home in June, less than a month after he was convicted of possessing more than 1,200 rare birds' eggs ­ for which he was fined £1,000. Magistrates said they would have jailed him for the earlier offences if they had been committed before January this year, when the new provisions of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which amended the Wildlife and Countryside Act, came into force. Jailing Sheavils yesterday, John Turner, chairman of South East Northumberland magistrates, said: "You appear to have shown no remorse."

Sheavils, who has two children, was also convicted of possessing amphetamine sulphate, which he used to keep him alert during his expeditions.

After the case, Keith Morton, investigations officer for the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said: "I don't think anyone should use the word 'pleased' regarding somebody being sent to prison, but there can be very few wildlife criminals who deserve prison any more."

Sheavils, who has convictions dating back to 1987 for offencesincluding possession of peregrine and osprey eggs, told a Channel 5 documentary four years ago: "Egg collecting is my life.I could never get it out of my system."

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