Man sentenced to 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs for selling protected animals

Published: 27 Feb 2014 09:304 comments

A MAN has been sentenced for selling protected animals.

Graham Martin, 37, of Furzemoors, Bracknell, was sentenced to a 12 month conditional discharge and ordered to pay £265 in costs at Slough Magistrates’ Court on Monday (February 24).

Martin, who runs an organisation called Berkshire Reptile Rescue in Bracknell, was arrested on January 9 last year and charged on February 24, 2013.

He pleaded guilty at Monday’s hearing to the following three counts:

Prohibited sale of a protected species (Spur thighed tortoise) in Furzemoors, Bracknell, on 12 February 2012.

Unlawful use of a protected species for commercial gain (Spur thighed and/or Hermanns tortoises) in Aldershot, Hampshire, on 26 September 2012.

Unlawful use of a protected species for commercial gain (Spur thighed and/or Hermanns tortoises) in Wooburn Common between 3 and 25 November 2012.

The charges relate to protected species through CITES (Control of Trade in Endangered Species), which are considered the most vulnerable species of plants and animal on the planet.

The sale and commercial use of these species is strictly controlled through the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations 1997.

Investigating officer, PC Ian Whitlock, from Thames Valley Police, said: “I am pleased that Martin has pleaded guilty to the three offences, following a lengthy and thorough investigation.

“Hopefully this will send out a clear message that offences relating to illegal wildlife trade will be investigated and prosecuted by Thames Valley Police.

“This is the first time the Force has prosecuted offences under the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations 1997. Offences relating to CITES, and in particular reptiles, is one of the National Wildlife Crime priorities.”

Head of Compliance at the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA), Alison Clarke added: “The wildlife legislation and licensing system exists to prevent endangered species from being taken from the wild for trade purposes. This case shows that failure to comply can lead to prosecution.

“AHVLA Wildlife Inspectors and Compliance Team supported Thames Valley Police in this investigation and will continue to assist Law Enforcement Agencies where there are breaches of Wildlife Legislation.”

Head of Unit at the National Wildlife Crime Unit, Det Insp Nevin Hunter said: “The conviction is the culmination of many months of hard work by PC Ian Whitlock, who completed a detailed investigation into the illegal commercial sale and use of these endangered tortoises.

“The reality is that some people try to make commercial gain from endangered species whilst at the same time claiming to have the best interests of the species involved.

“On this occasion clear offending has been identified and has resulted in the conviction, which is important as it should reassure the public in general that wildlife crime is taken seriously. It should also act as reassurance to those involved in the legal trade of endangered species who play such a significant part in ensuring that species are conserved.

“In recent weeks the United Kingdom has shown that it can play a significant role in the conservation of endangered species. But this is not just about the trade in elephants, rhino and tigers in far away lands. Tackling the illegal commercial use of, and trade in endangered species in this country forms part of the battleground as well.

“I commend PC Whitlock and the Vivienne Perry at the Crown Prosecution Service for doggedly seeing this case through to its outcome.”

Speaking after the case, Mr Martin said: "I only pleaded guilty as I needed the case gone away as it was affecting my mental health.

The court case cost the tax payer more than ten thousand pound and I was told to pay £250 based on the fact I was told by DEFRA I could charge a rehome fee then they changed the rules without telling me and I can only charge a donation.

"The case was over semantics and redtape more then protecting the animals."

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  • biggeneral
    2 posts
    Feb 28, 08:15
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    I hardly think pc whitlock is to be commended for his work here, he spent all that time and money on persecuting someone who has fallen foul of redtape and is doing good, rather then catching the hare coursers badger baiter's ect the real criminals. faith in the police and justice system restored. NOT. faith in what you read in the paper restored. NOT.

    Recommend?   Yes 14     No 1

  • biggeneral
    2 posts
    Feb 28, 08:33
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    oh and by the way furze platts is in maidenhead. Berkshire reptile rescue is in Furzemoors Bracknell. try googling it.

    Recommend?   Yes 9     No 1

  • HAFM2014
    1 post
    Mar 2, 19:08
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    Absolutely disgraceful how Mr Martin was dealt with over this matter when a simple slap on the wrist would of sufficed. I believe it to be a case for naivety on Graham's part and to no gain to himself whatsoever. This is a classic misuse of police time and the officers involved should be earning their wage with some dignity and not trying to bring down a local animal charity. Anyone who knows Mr Martin or whom has dealt with Mr Martin would attest to his good nature and complete care to his animals. I say this with complete conviction that Mr Martin is innocent to all charges and that the guilty plea was just to end the nonsense. He is absolutely correct with the red tape comment, as this was just that. I hope that the officers involved are pleased with the tarnished reputation of an animal charity who simply didn't realise all the legalities involved. Luckily Graham will continue to build his charity with the support of those close to him, family, friends and business associates ... Let's hope the police use their time more wisely in future

    Recommend?   Yes 3     No 1

  • greenie12
    1 post
    Mar 4, 20:24
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    Absolutely disgraceful how Mr Martin was dealt with over this matter when a simple slap on the wrist would of sufficed. I believe it to be a case for naivety on Graham's part and to no gain to himself whatsoever.I have met Mr Martin and seen he's rescue animals and he does not do it for personal gain it's to insure the animals are safe and go to suitable homes,i think that your right up is beyond a joke and that Mr Martin has been mad a Ginny big for the so called news papers and the police to find a innocent man trying to help and save these animals and twist the details to make them selves look good...get the real story from the real man...........people dont believe this Mr Martin is a decent man and does all he can to help and re-home,you have destroyed he's reputation by writing this and you should apologize for any misleading comments that have been made regarding he's nature into the re-homing of these poor animals that have been treated badly in the first place by people who dont have a clue and want a so called Christmas presents and then get bored............what about doing a wright up to show exactly what he does and what it's costs him to run the rescue center there is no mention about him being out of pocket and being in clothes with holes in..........does this sound and look like a man who is making personal gain out of selling endangered animals ?????

    Recommend?   Yes 2     No 0