Birmingham & Black Country

Award for Birmingham cleaner who caught egg smuggler

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Media captionJohn Struczynski helped catch a falcon egg smuggler at Birmingham Airport

An airport cleaner who helped catch a notorious egg smuggler has been thanked and given an award.

John Struczynski became suspicious of Jeffrey Lendrum when he found discarded egg boxes at Birmingham Airport in May.

Lendrum, 48, was arrested and found in possession of 14 peregrine falcon eggs worth £70,000 on the black market. He was jailed for 30 months in August.

Mr Struczynski was presented with a limited edition print of an avocet by Environment Minister Richard Benyon.

He was also thanked by RSPB conservation director Mark Avery and police at the ceremony in Birmingham.

Lendrum, of York Close, Towcester, Northamptonshire, was arrested by counter-terrorism officers as he waited to board a flight to Dubai.

He was caught with the rare eggs strapped to his body.

Lendrum, who had previous convictions in Zimbabwe and Canada for stealing rare eggs, had asked to use a shower room in the VIP Emirates Lounge.

But Mr Struczynski, from the West Midlands, spotted him dashing in and out of the cubicle.

"I noticed the gentleman come in to the VIP lounge at Birmingham airport. And he then proceeded to go towards the shower room with two bags - which I thought was strange to start with.

"After which I went to clean it all up and change all the linen but I realised everywhere was completely dry."

Mr Struczynski checked bins in the room nearby where he discovered two discarded egg boxes, which contained a single red egg.

The cleaner contacted counter-terrorism officers who searched Lendrum.

'Significant catch'

The former member of the Rhodesian SAS had wrapped the eggs, which had been stolen from a nest in south Wales, in socks before taping them to his chest to keep them warm.

Andy McWilliam, investigations officer for the National Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "Jeffrey Lendrum was operating at the highest global level of wildlife crime. This is a significant catch."

Image caption Lendrum was arrested at Birmingham International Airport while waiting for a flight

At first Lendrum claimed they were chicken eggs he had bought at Waitrose before saying he used them to treat his bad back.

However, at Warwick Crown Court, he admitted attempting to smuggle rare bird eggs out of Britain.

Eleven of the eggs went on to hatch successfully and the highly-protected chicks were released back into the wild.

Mr Benyon said: "Tackling the persecution of birds of prey is a wildlife crime priority across the whole of the UK and strong legislation is in place to protect and conserve our wildlife.

"I am grateful to Mr Struczynski for his quick thinking which helped to bring a peregrine falcon eggsmuggler to justice."

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