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Man jailed and told to give his collection of 5,000 rare bird eggs to Natural History Museum

PUBLISHED: 16:04 27 November 2018 | UPDATED: 17:39 27 November 2018

Daniel Lingham   
Photo: Bill Smith

Daniel Lingham Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2005

A “one man crime wave” who collected more than 5,000 rare bird eggs has been jailed and ordered to give the entire collection to the Natural History Museum.

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 from the ground at Cawston Heath in north Norfolk, Norwich Magistrates’ Court heard.

Colette Harper, prosecuting, said officers stop-searched him on May 21.

She said he had eggs on him and produced two small tubs of eggs. Officers also found he had a catapult and tree climbing spikes with him.

She said that Lingham told officers: “I’ve been a silly man, haven’t I?”

Daniel Lingham   PHOTO: Norfolk PoliceDaniel Lingham PHOTO: Norfolk Police

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

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

The eggs had been taken from 134 different locations, including in Norfolk.

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

Detective Constable Jerry Simpson, of Norwich Police pictured with eggs from the collection of Daniel Lingham   PHOTO: ArchantDetective Constable Jerry Simpson, of Norwich Police pictured with eggs from the collection of Daniel Lingham PHOTO: Archant

Mrs Harper said of the 298 different species of bird eggs taken, 53 of the eggs were protected under schedule one of the act, meaning that “these species are in decline”.

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

Mrs Harper urged the court to impose a criminal behaviour order (CBO) for 10 years, as well as disqualifying him from driving and forfeiting various items, including his Nissan vehicle.

James Burrows, mitigating for Lingham, said he had come with his bags packed as he knew there was a real danger of him going to prison.

Mr Burrows said since being arrested, Lingham has sought to get help and has seen a psychological therapist at Hellesdon Hospital.

He said he has talked about his obsession or “addiction to collecting wild bird eggs”.

Mr Burrows said it started as a young boy when his father, who he had a difficult relationship with, would praise him if he collected rare eggs.

Chairman of the bench Darren Gilkes said the offences were so serious that only immediate custody would do.

He was jailed for a total of 18 weeks, reduced from 26 weeks because of his guilty pleas, and made subject of a 10-year criminal behaviour order (CBO).

Referring to the 53 category one eggs that he took, Mr Gilkes said his actions were so damaging to the whole community because they could never be recovered.

Lingham was also ordered to hand his entire collection of eggs to the Natural History Museum.

He pleaded guilty to taking nine linnet eggs at Cawston Heath on May 21 and possession of articles capable of being used to commit an offence - 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 boxes, plastic containers and egg reference books.

The Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 is the primary legislation which protects animals, plants and habitats in the UK. Penalties that can be imposed for criminal offences in respect of a single bird, nest or egg contrary to the act is an unlimited fine, up to six months imprisonment or both.

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