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Wednesday, March 11, 1998 Published at 19:44 GMT



UK

Rhino horn traders jailed
image: [ Some of the rhino horns in Wilfred Bull's collection ]
Some of the rhino horns in Wilfred Bull's collection

Two men involved in a multi-million pound deal to sell rhino horn on the black market have been jailed.

Wilfred Bull, 63, who is already serving a life sentence for murdering his wife, was jailed for 15 months. This will be run at the same time as his current jail term.

Judge Peter Langan, QC, at King's Lynn Crown Court, also ordered that Bull's collection of more than 120 rhino horns be confiscated and ordered him to pay £700 prosecution costs.

The RSPCA said the collection, one of the largest in the world, was worth £2.8m and represented 1% of the current rhino population.

David Eley, from Great Shelford in Cambridgeshire, was jailed for nine months after the judge told him that his part in the plot had been so serious that it could only be dealt with by a custodial sentence.

Defendant 'buried head in sand'

Judge Langan said Eley, 53 was being jailed because of the quantity of rhino horns involved and because he was convinced that he had "deliberately buried his head in the sand" about whether the trade was illegal.

Carol Scotchford-Hughes, 50, from Willingham in Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to 120 hours community service.

Sentence on a fourth defendant Elaine Arscott, 40, also of Great Shelford, was deferred for two weeks.

Legitimate collector

All four pleaded guilty at earlier hearings to conspiring to sell rhino horn between January and September 1996 contrary to the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Act 1985.

The case was the first ever involving rhino horn and was of "strict liability" meaning the defendants were guilty whether they had known they were breaking the law or not.

The court was told Bull, originally from Coggeshall, Essex, murdered his wife in 1985 but had collected the horns legitimately before that time.

He instigated the sale from his prison cell bringing in his long-standing girlfriend Carol Scotchford-Hughes who in turn recruited her former boss, businessman David Eley and his live-in girlfriend Elaine Arscott.

The court heard that Arscott, using a false name, rang the London Stock Exchange to speak to an expert on "animal trophies" - and he tipped off the RSPCA.

Police raid

Detectives from the South East Regional Crime Squad were called in to pose as potential buyers.

Scotchford-Hughes, Eley and Arscott were arrested after officers swooped on a West London storehouse when Scotchford-Hughes arrived to prove to her "buyers" the horns were genuine.

Rhino horn powder is sought after in the Far East as a medicine and aphrodisiac but trade was banned in 1985 to protect the endangered species from poachers.

Defence lawyers for all four defendants told the court they had not known the trade was illegal.

Last month a fifth man, Paul Rexstrew, 45, of Wimbledon, south London, was acquitted of the same charge on the second day of a trial after the judge ruled there was no case to answer.
 





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