Matthew Gonshaw jailed for stealing rare birds' eggs

Gonshaw's eggs
Image caption Police described Gonshaw's collection as an "obsession"

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, camouflage clothing, climbing equipment and maps of nesting sites were found at Matthew Gonshaw's east London home.

Gonshaw, 49, has previously been jailed for similar offences.

He was given six months after admitting 10 charges of theft and possession of rare eggs, at Thames Magistrates' Court.

The Metropolitan Police were first alerted to Gonshaw in June 2011 after intelligence claimed he had a large number of wild bird eggs at his address.

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.

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.

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