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Byline: Mike Malyon

A MAN who tried to snare wild birds in his back garden has escaped being put behind bars himself.

Jay Willoughby, 31, of Bulkington Road, Bedworth, was sentenced at Nuneaton magistrates court yesterday after admitting being in possession of three wild goldfinches, not keeping them in a suitable environment and having three traps.

At an earlier hearing of the RSPCA case, he had been warned that a custodial punishment could not be ruled out.

But, after reading probation reports, magistrates gave Willoughby a 12-month community order, to be under the supervision of a probation officer and to fulfil 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also disqualified from keeping birds for 12 months and ordered to pay pounds 450 towards the RSPCA costs.

Presiding magistrate Dorrie Manders told him: "These offences are serious enough for us to make a high level community order but we are giving you credit for making an early guilty plea."

Prosecuting solicitor Nick Sutton explained how police and RSPCA inspectors went to Willoughby's house and found two goldfinches in separate cages in the garden and a third one in a cage in the kitchen.

Traps had been set in the garden, including one that could be operated by using a fishing line that ran through the kitchen window.

"The two goldfinches outside were decoys to attract others and seed was also used to entice them into traps, which were spring-loaded. In a shed there was an aviary which was empty but had plainly had birds in it.

''There were also sticks with a gluelike substance on them, which is another method of trapping birds." Mr Sutton added: "There is a commercial market for wild birds, which suffer in captivity. Two of the goldfinches found in the raid died within 14 days, while the other was released back into the wild."

In mitigation, Simon Marlow-Ridley said Willoughby had bought two of the goldfinches a year ago and the third one for pounds 10 the day before the RSPCA visit and that he did not realise it was an offence to have them. After the case, RSPCA inspector Herchran Boal said: "I am disappointed that the magistrates imposed only a 12-month ban on keeping birds.

''I feel that should have been longer.

Cases of people trapping wild birds are quite prevalent.

''They do so for financial reasons, without any consideration for the welfare of the animals."
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 30, 2010
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