A Birmingham man who smuggled birds of prey worth more than £25,000 into the UK has avoided a jail sentence.
Brynn McDonagh, of West Heath, pretended the 20 birds he imported from South Africa were for a breeding scheme – but he had already placed adverts offering them for sale.
They included three African hawk eagles, four jackal buzzards and two American kestrels,
McDonagh, 27, of Fryer Road, could have been jailed for up to seven years after admitting the illegal importation of birds of prey, selling them and two charges of offering birds for sale.
But Judge Michael Callum instead handed him a ten-month sentence, suspended for a year, because it did not appear the birds had been mistreated.
He was also ordered to perform 150 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,000 costs.
Nigel Wilkins, prosecuting, told Birmingham Crown Court the birds were imported via Heathrow Airport in September last year, flouting a ban on the sale of breeds from outside the European Union.
Mr Wilkins said McDonagh sold two American kestrels and two little banded goshawks for £900 and, had they all been sold, he would have received around £26,000.
McDonagh’s activities came to the attention of the National Wildlife Crime Unit and on January 29 this year officers raided his home and found a number of the imported birds
When interviewed, McDonagh said he had not intended to make a massive profit and he had only intended to try to cover his costs of up to £4,000 by selling some of the birds.
Sara-Lise Howe, defending, said: “This is an unusual case because of a lack of desire for commercial gain.
“These were not good-quality birds. It is simply because McDonagh has had a lifelong fascination with birds.”
She said he had been involved with birds from the age of eight and he was not initially aware he was not allowed to sell them on.
After the hearing, wildlife crime unit investigator Andy McWilliam said: “The birds have been rehomed with reputable and acknowledged keepers.
“It is likely they will be kept with those keepers but there will be an official process to determine that.
“Mr McDonagh did not co-operate so we have not been able to account for three of the birds.
“Another four were sold to Belgium and Holland and we are working with the authorities there to have them seized.”