Rare egg thief handed first wildlife ASBO with a ten-year ban from Scotland
- Magistrates banned Matthew Gonshaw from visiting Scotland for ten years during the breeding season
- Officers found the egg of the rare black-tailed godwit - estimated to be fewer than 40 breeding pairs left.
ASBO: Magistrates took the unprecedented step of banning Matthew Gonshaw from visiting Scotland for ten years during the breeding season
A man has been given the first ‘wildlife Asbo’ after an obsessive campaign of stealing rare birds’ eggs.
Magistrates took the unprecedented step of banning Matthew Gonshaw from visiting Scotland for ten years during the breeding season.
Dubbed ‘public enemy number one’ by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the jobless 49-year-old is one of the country’s most prolific egg stealers.
He amassed a collection of more than 700 rare eggs from endangered breeds including golden eagles and ospreys.
Some had contained live chicks, but he killed them by drilling a small hole in the egg and stored the shells in elaborate display cases at his home in Bow, East London.
In one raid, officers found the egg of the rare black-tailed godwit. There are estimated to be fewer than 40 breeding pairs left.
Thief: A selection of the rare eggs stolen by Matthew Gonshaw who was dubbed 'public enemy number one' by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Gonshaw, who has had 51 convictions over the past decade under the Wildlife and Countryside Act, was described in a previous hearing as having an encyclopaedic knowledge of birds.
He is thought to have spent weeks living rough to monitor about 170 nests, making meticulous notes. He appeared to be motivated only by trophy hunting and made no money from the thefts.
Among the haul were 12 avocet eggs. The bird (above) is used for the RSPB emblem
Gonshaw was arrested on the island of Rum in the Hebrides last summer after police found detailed maps, climbing equipment and camouflage clothes in his home.
He is banned from travelling to Scotland during the breeding season from February 1 to August 31, Stratford magistrates ruled last Friday. He is also banned from all RSPB land and any owned by the Wildlife Trust until 2022.
Gonshaw, who lives on benefits, is thought to have been able to afford his excursions by hitch-hiking and living in the wild.
If he breaks his ban, he faces a £20,000 fine or five years in jail.
He is currently serving his fourth sentence for egg collecting, having been jailed in December.
Mark Thomas, of the RSPB, said: ‘He has become a serial menace, targeting our rarest birds, such as the red kite and peregrine falcon, for a selfish desire to add to his collection.
‘Already being the only man in England to be denied the joy of visiting our nature reserves, he must surely realise it’s time to give it up.’
Pc Stephen Rodgers, of the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit, said that Gonshaw had ‘directly jeopardised Britain’s wildlife’.
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