Six-figure bill for Rotherham bird thief

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A Rotherham man jailed for his role in a plot to steal rare birds must pay a six-figure confiscation bill after an Appeal Court ruling.

James Lee Collins, of Camden Grove, Maltby, Rotherham, was prosecuted after he was discovered doing a recce of a Suffolk property in November 2008, London’s Appeal Court heard.

In his car, officers discovered suspicious items including a bird cage, balaclava, gloves and addresses of two local parrot breeders.

Judge Anthony Russell QC said Collins and accomplice Trevor Pitts had travelled from their South Yorkshire homes to steal exotic parrots from bird sanctuaries they had targeted.

The pair stole 17 parrots, worth up to £130,000, from a farm in Friday Bridge, Wisbech – including Red-tailed, Blue-fronted and Cuban Amazons.

They also tried to burgle a farm in Ashford, Kent in October 2008, but fled after the alarm was raised.

In October 2010, Collins, aged 38, was handed a 40-month sentence after admitting three counts of conspiracy to commit burglary. He was also banned from driving for two years.

Pitts, 40, received a 33-month term.

In April last year, Collins was also hit with a £118,117 confiscation order to reflect the loss of birds which were never recovered.

Collins insisted he was a ‘simple courier who had little to gain from the aviary heists. He also claimed the prosecution had over-estimated the stolen birds’ monetary value.

But Judge Russell rejected his challenge saying: “There is no merit in any of the grounds put forward.”