Norfolk man who illegally hoarded 5000 rare eggs faces jail

Norfolk man who illegally hoarded 5000 rare eggs faces jail
Britains most prolific bird egg thief single-handedly put the future of nightjars and turtle doves at risk, RSPB says after court case
Daniel Lingham, 65, is facing jail after illegally collecting more than 5,000 bird eggs, including a number of endangered species.

Lingham, who pleaded guilty to five offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, was caught after a member of the public told police she had seen a man head-to-toe in camouflage gear" picking eggs up off the ground at Cawston Heath in Norfolk, the court heard on Friday.

Officers then searched his home address and found tubs containing eggs under his bed and in the kitchen and living room, with many of them handwritten on.

Colette Harpe, prosecuting, said officers found a total of 5,266 eggs of species including nightingales, nightjars, turtle doves, chiffchaffs, little-ringed plovers, woodlarks and kingfishers.

Speaking outside the court, RSPB senior investigator Mark Thomas Linghams crimes would have a huge impact on the local, regional and national populations of some of Britains rarest and most threatened birds, including nightjar and turtle dove.

He said: "At a time when egg collecting is on the decline, Lingham is the most prolific egg collector in recent years.

"Lingham has taken significant numbers of eggs from some of our rarest and most threatened birds, including nightjar and turtle dove.

"Birds like the turtle dove are in long term decline – we have lost 94 per cent of our turtle doves in the UK since 1995 and no UK bird is declining faster.

Speaking in court, Ms Harper said that 75 of the eggs found at Linghams property had the highest level of protection under the wildlife laws, adding that these species are in decline.

He was convicted of similar offences in 2005 when he was jailed for 12 weeks for illegally collecting 3,603 eggs, the court heard.

The charges to which Lingham pleaded guilty on Friday are taking nine linnet eggs at Cawston Heath on May 21 and possession of articles capable of being used to commit an offence found during the stop search, which are tree climbing spikes, binoculars and padded containers.

He also admitted possession of 75 schedule one listed wild bird eggs, possession of 4,070 ordinarily protected wild bird eggs and possession of articles capable of being used to commit an offence found at his home address, which were wooden receptacles, plastic containers and egg reference books.

James Burrows, mitigating, said Lingham has been referred to a mental health team and is being treated for obsessive compulsive disorder.

Chairman of the bench Jeanne Heal, adjourning the hearing for a pre-sentence report, warned Lingham: "Were looking at a quite lengthy custodial sentence."

Daniel Lingham, 65, was reported to police by a member of the public who saw him head-to-toe in camouflage gear picking eggs up off the ground at Cawston Heath in Norfolk, Norwich Magistrates Court heard.

He disclosed he had eggs on his person and produced two small tubs, she said, adding officers also found he had a catapult and tree climbing spikes with him.

Officers searched his home address and found tubs containing eggs under his bed and in the kitchen and living room, with many of them handwritten on.

Ms Harper said officers found a total of 5,266 eggs of species including nightingales, nightjars, turtle doves, chiffchaffs, little-ringed plovers, woodlarks and kingfishers.

Lingham, of Newton Park Homes, Newton St Faith, admitted five offences under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Ms Harper said that 75 of the eggs were protected under schedule one of the act, adding that these species are in decline.

He was convicted of similar offences in 2005 when he was jailed for 12 weeks for illegally collecting 3,603 eggs.

The charges to which Lingham pleaded guilty on Friday are taking nine linnet eggs at Cawston Heath on May 21 and possession of articles capable of being used to commit an offence found during the stop search, which are tree climbing spikes, binoculars and padded containers.

He also admitted possession of 75 schedule one listed wild bird eggs, possession of 4,070 ordinarily protected wild bird eggs and possession of articles capable of being used to commit an offence found at his home address, which were wooden receptacles, plastic containers and egg reference books.

James Burrows, mitigating, said Lingham has been referred to a mental health team and is being treated for obsessive compulsive disorder.

Chairman of the bench Jeanne Heal, adjourning the hearing for a pre-sentence report, warned Lingham: Were looking at a quite lengthy custodial sentence.

Speaking outside court, RSPB senior investigations officer Mark Thomas described Lingham as a one-man crime wave in terms of rare birds in Norfolk whose actions had an incredible impact on birds both regionally and nationally.

He said some bird species that Lingham targeted, such as nightjar, nightingale and turtle dove, have really declined in the last decade, some by as much as 90pc.

The RSPB is spending nearly £200,000 per year trying to conserve the turtle dove as there is a very high chance that this bird could become extinct in the UK, he said.

He said egg collecting is now really rare after a change in the law in 2001 meant egg collectors could be jailed.


Posted in Norfolk