Highlands & Islands

Serial egg thief Matthew Gonshaw jailed and banned from Scotland

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

A serial egg thief from London has been jailed and banned from entering Scotland for the rest of his life during the bird breeding season.

Matthew Gonshaw, 49, admitted stealing the eggs of several rare species on the Isle of Rum last year.

Inverness Sheriff Court heard how he was spotted raiding nests in a bird colony on the island.

Jailing Gonshaw for six months, Sheriff Margaret Neilson described him as a "wildlife destroyer".

When he was searched by police in May 2011, officers found 20 eggs from a variety of species, including Manx shearwater and Meadow pipit.

Gonshaw, who has been jailed for similar offences in the past, also had maps of the Inverness and Cairngorm areas, where there are populations of Red Kite, Osprey and Golden Eagles.

Later officers searched his London flat where they found a large collection of birds eggs, among them were seven golden eagle eggs and eight osprey eggs.

Speaking after Gonshaw was sentenced, the head of Scotland's wildlife and environmental crime unit at the Crown Office, Craig Harris, said: "Our wildlife is part of our national character.

"It improves our quality of life, underpins many livelihoods and supports the growing nature tourism industry.

"Wildlife crime is a blatant attack against all of these benefits."

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