Page last updated at 06:04 GMT, Friday, 29 August 2008 07:04 UK

Wild bird offences bring car ban

Bobby Jenkins
Bobby Jenkins must also pay 1,000 towards prosecution costs

A man found guilty of illegally keeping wild birds in his garden shed has been banned from driving for four months by a district judge.

Police and RSPCA investigators found 22 linnets, goldfinches and chaffinches at his property in Margam, Port Talbot.

Bobby Jenkins, 59, ran a small business buying and selling birds.

District judge Jill Watkins said as he was on benefits and a "man of limited means" she would punish him with a driving ban as a deterrent to others.

Jenkins had denied three counts of possessing live wild birds under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 but had been found guilty at a trial.

He had claimed he had bought the birds "in good faith" during a trip to Belgium.

A deterrent to other persons who might be tempted to run this sort of racket
District Judge Jill Watkins on the sentence

But he had not been able to provide any documentation to back up his claims.

Jenkins's name had come to the attention of police and RSPCA officials who were investigating the trafficking of wild birds in Scotland.

Early on 15 May 2007 officers armed with a search warrant descended on his home at Byass Street.

Twenty two wild birds were seized and Jenkins was charged.

Sentencing him at Neath magistrates' court Judge Watkins described the subsequent trial as "lengthy and wholly unnecessary" and said she was "troubled" by many aspects of his evidence.

"You were not able to provide any documentary evidence even to confirm where they were purchased," she added.

She also said the purpose of the sentence was to act as "a deterrent to other persons who might be tempted to run this sort of racket."

'High mortality rate'

Judge Watkins said had Jenkins pleaded guilty instead of opting for a trial it was likely he would have been given a conditional charge.

She also ordered him to pay 1,000 towards the prosecution costs.

Speaking after the trial the RSPCA said the illicit trade in wild birds caused them a great deal of suffering.

Nick De Celis, who was involved in the case, said traders often caught them using glue, nets or traps.

"The most recent research I have seen suggests a very high mortality rate at capture," he said.

"By the time you get to the birds that make it into the trade there has been a lot of death and suffering that's unnecessary."

Speaking outside the court Jenkins insisted he was innocent.

"There was 100% no evidence that they were wild birds - I'm not guilty," he said.

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