South Yorkshire wild bird trapper could face jail

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A GREAT-GRANDFATHER could face jail after admitting possessing 61 wild birds and causing unnecessary suffering to three creatures.

Malcolm Spencer, aged 67, also pleaded guilty to a string of charges against him concerning bird welfare, the attempted trapping of a bird and possession of tools for taking them or tampering with bird rings.

Chesterfield magistrates were shown a DVD taken by RSPCA officers at the widower’s Bolsover home – which showed parrots living in ‘very poor conditions’. In some cages, there were up to six inches of debris including faeces and rotten food, and no access to water.

Outside in a household bin there was a dead bullfinch. In Spencer’s allotment nearby officers found aviaries containing wild birds in poor conditions, empty cages and traps, several dead birds and evidence of vermin. In the DVD, an RSPCA inspector said he believed the area had been left ‘intentionally overgrown’ to attract wild birds.

The court heard ‘unnecessary suffering’ had been caused to a skylark, whitethroat and mealy redpoll which had, respectively, faecal balling of the feet, feather loss and a parasitic condition. Brian Orsborn, prosecuting, said Spencer had “immersed himself in the shady world of dealing with wild birds.” Insp Caroll Lambert also told the court: “The trading of wild birds is rife in England in certain parts and these birds are traded for quite a lot of money.”

The court heard there was no evidence of Spencer trading birds. A large number of bird rings - some of which had already been tampered with - were found at his home on New Bolsover. In mitigation Annette Thomas said there was ‘no financial gain’ for Spencer in keeping the birds and it ‘was purely for his own pleasure.”

Spencer had arthritis and been ill and struggled to keep birds as he should, she added.

He had shown ‘genuine remorse’. Ms Thomas added: “He was shown part of the DVD and he got quite distressed and asked for it to be stopped.” Magistrates told Spencer a custodial sentence could not be ruled out as they adjourned the hearing until April 25 for reports and bailed him until that date.

He pleaded guilty to 34 offences between July and September 2011.