Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Monday, 1 March 2010

Wakefield couple face jail over skin and skull trade

A couple from West Yorkshire have been told they could go to jail after admitting trading in the skins and skulls of endangered species.

Graham and Norah Pitchforth, from Wakefield, admitted trading in dead animals and birds, including monkeys and a lion cub, on the internet.

The couple, aged 61 and 65, both pleaded guilty to 24 charges relating to the trade at Leeds Crown Court.

They were told they faced a "real possibility" of going to prison.

Exotic species

At a previous hearing, the court heard that the couple's home in Southfield Close was raided in December 2006 by the police, HM Revenue and Customs and the National Wildlife Crime Unit.

They were arrested and charged with trading in endangered animals.

All the offences took place between October 2005 and December 2006.

The court heard a long list of exotic species which were bought or sold by the couple.

This included a spotted eagle owl, pig-tailed macaque monkey, African penguin, baboon and a giant tree shrew.

Mr and Mrs Pitchforth, aged 61 and 65, spoke only to admit the charges.

Judge Kerry Macgill told them: "Although I am going to renew your bail, be under no illusion that all options, including the real possibility of a custodial sentence, will be open to me."

The case was adjourned until 15 April.

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