Stately home owner jailed

A Norfolk stately home owner was put behind bars for four months today for a string of offences relating to endangered birds of prey and birds eggs.

A Norfolk stately home owner was put behind bars for four months today for a string of offences relating to endangered birds of prey and birds eggs.

Michael Barclay, 68, of Hanworth Hall, near Cromer, was found guilty by a jury at Norwich Crown Court of eight charges of illegally purchasing prohibited specimens of birds between June 1997 and May 2004 from John Metcalf, a former museum worker.

Metcalf, 66, of Billesden, Leicestershire, was found guilty of eight counts of selling prohibited species between the same dates and was given a two-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months.

It emerged after the verdict that Barclay, who was also ordered to pay £30,000 in costs, had pleaded guilty in a previous hearing to two counts of smuggling wild bird eggs in to the country from Russia and Norway - charges which Judge Simon Barham deemed the most serious.

Today, Barclay also admitted four charges of possessing stuffed wild birds and eggs, with some of the birds from a protected site on the Scottish island of North Rona.

Metcalf, an ornithologist and taxidermist who used to work for Leicester Museum, also pleaded guilty today to two charges of taking a wild bird and one of disturbing a wild bird between July 13 and 17 2003, at North Rona.

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During the trial, prosecutor Andrew Bird said neither of the men had the necessary licence to trade in endangered birds and had committed offences under the control of endangered species enforcement regulations 1997.

Sentencing Barclay, Judge Barham said: “I appreciate that you are a wildlife enthusiast but the purpose of this legislation is to protect endangered species and it's important that they are dealt with severely.”