Law change plea after Battersea ivory trader fined just £1,375
A leading global animal protection charity has demanded changes to the UK legal system after a man who admitted trading in ivory walked free from court with just a £1,375 fine.
Simon Pope, director of campaigns at the World Society for the Protection Animals (WSPA), spoke exclusively to the Wandsworth Guardian after Alick Brown, 30, avoided a prison sentence at Kingston Crown Court last week.
Brown, from Worfield Street, Battersea, admitted three counts of trading whale and dolphin boneand marine turtle shell using fake company names, such as Arctic Antiques and Ice Antiques, on online trading website eBay.
Detectives from the Metropolitan Police’s wildlife crime unit began investigating Brown in May 2012 after customs officers found his eBay account.
Brown’s home was raided three months later where large quantities of marine ivory, illegal to trade under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Enforcement Regulations (Cotes), was discovered.
Officers also recovered antique ivory Brown had been illegally reworking to create new products,such as walking stick handles and artwork.
In order to prevent the sale of ivory, eBay implemented a ban on its sale so Brown advertised theivory as ox bone in order to avoid detection.
His acccount showed the last item he sold, advertised as an antique Japanese carved ox bone gaming counter, sold for £370.
Mr Pope, who spent two years in Namibia protecting black rhino, said: “All this talk internationally about reducing wildlife crime is pointless if this man is given such a low sentence.
"This acts as no disincentive for anyone wanting to run the risk of dealing in these high value goods.
“WSPA believe sentences like this are letting down the anti-poaching units and the individuals who put their lives at risk in order to protect endangered animals.
“They need the support from the judiciary to dispense truly dissuasive sentences.
“There has been a resurgence in the popularity of ivory, especially items like scrimshaw [ivory orbone carvings].
“Ivory and animal bone are source materials for some of the most expensive jewellery around.”
Black market prices of ivory have skyrocketed with one kilogram of black rhino horn estimated to worth more than the equivalent weight of cocaine.
But hope is on the horizon with a conference, attended by a host of world leaders, due to be held in London next month titled the Illegal Trade in Wildlife.
Mr Pope added: “Ivory trading is a hugely profitable exercise, but none of the sentences handed out are commensurate with sentences for drugs and weapons offences.
“We are talking about a £20bn industry with only the drugs and weapons trade generating more.
“We have to punish the people who are doing this with tough sentences, elephants and rhino could be extinct in the next 10 years.”
Brown admitted three counts of selling/keeping for sale specimen of species listed in Annex A of Cotes at Kingston Crown Court on January 23 and was fined a total of £1,375.
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