Falconer to pay £5,500 after selling endangered bird

A falconer has been sentenced to 300 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay court costs of more than £5,500 following his conviction for a catalogue of offences. Paul Hill, 42, from Dairy Hill, Ivybridge, who claims he runs the world’s largest online falconry forum, was sentenced yesterday at Torquay Magistrates’ Court to the 12-month community order.

Last month he was convicted of offering a goshawk for sale and selling a goshawk without the right paperwork under the provisions of the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations 1997. He was also convicted of failing to register three goshawks under the provisions of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

But, speaking moments after the hearing, Mr Hill was adamant he would appeal. “The whole court case has been perverse. It is a perversion of the law,” he said. “We will go to the appeal and give it stick.”

Mr Hill was banned from keeping birds of prey for five years after being convicted following a seven-day hearing. Hill’s solicitor Nigel Butt confirmed he would lodge the appeal papers today. Passing sentence, chairman of the bench Jeff Beer said Hill had “failed to see the seriousness” of the offences and had given the impression throughout, of being the only person who had all of the answers. He told Hill he would have to pay court costs of £5,580, and that £1,300 in cash that was seized by police in the raid at Hill’s former Torquay home in August 2009 would be paid towards the costs within 14 days. The remaining balance of £4,280 must be paid off within 60 days.

“There are many reasons why the registration of goshawks is important. You blame others, but you should look at yourself,” added Mr Beer. He also made clear that there was no cruelty involved in the case and that the birds were not wild, nor was there any impact on the species.

Nevin Hunter, head of compliance at the Animal Health agency, said: “The actions of Mr Hill have done a huge disservice to all involved in lawful falconry. “He was prepared to sell an unregistered bird without necessary certification to an unwitting fellow falconer who took him on trust that he had the correct paperwork and would pass it on. “These offences are compounded by the fact that Hill has established himself as an authority and has betrayed a position of trust.”

Inspector Julie Challoner, the police Wildlife Crime Co-ordinator, said: “This conviction should be seen as a wake-up call to all those tempted to keep endangered birds illegally and seek to profit from illegal trade.”

Source: The Western Morning News 12/12/10

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