An egg collector has been jailed for stealing hundreds of eggs from birds including a golden eagle and osprey.
More than 700 eggs – stolen from nests in Scotland and Essex – camouflage clothing, climbing equipment and maps of nesting spots were found at the home of Matthew Gonshaw in Bow, east London.
Gonshaw, 49, has previously been jailed for similar offences.
He got six months after admitting 10 charges of theft and possession of rare eggs, at Thames Magistrates’ Court.
The Metropolitan Police and RSPB raided the flat after he was arrested for taking the eggs of several wild birds, including those of a golden eagle and osprey.
He also confessed to stealing 12 avocet eggs from a nesting site on Two Tree Island in Essex.
Gonshaw also took eggs of other birds including peregrine falcons, dotterels, redwings and merlins.
Stealing the eggs of eagles and osprey is amongst the worst wildlife crimes possible in the UK”
Mark Thomas RSPB
Con Stephen Rodgers, of the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “This is one of the most serious cases of wildlife crime I have had to investigate.
“Gonshaw’s actions directly jeopardize Britain’s wildlife and his obsession with collecting eggs threatens some of our rarest and most precious species.
“We hope that this result here at court sends out a clear message that, together with our partners from the RSPB, we will work to protect Britain’s birds for future generations.”
The RSPB’s Mark Thomas added: “Stealing the eggs of eagles and osprey is amongst the worst wildlife crimes possible in the UK.
“It is clear the current powers available to the court have had very little impact on this individual, who has been jailed three times previously.”
In 2002 Gonshaw was jailed for three months over his egg collection.
In court he was described as a loner who abused his encyclopaedic knowledge of birds.
An Asbo application relating to Gonshaw is due to be heard on 17 February at Stratford Magistrates’ Court.