A FORMER Accrington antiques business which sold stuffed animals illegally has escaped with a conditional discharge and costs of just £65 after its director appeared before Hyndburn magistrates..
Darell Kevin Cosgrove, 41, of Globalcount Ltd which owned the Sellitall store formerly based on Blackburn Road, Accrington, appeared in court on Monday. The company was given a 12-month discharge and ordered to pay costs.
Earlier this year the store was raided by police and around 16 officers and staff from the National Wildlife Unit and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
They seized several stuffed animals protected under the Control of the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and Wildlife and Countryside Acts.
At the time, Cosgrove, who is the son of Accrington businessman Kevin Cosgrove, said it was the last straw for the business and announced his plans to close its doors.
Cosgrove, and the store's manager Paul Barratt, 58, were originally charged with 28 offences under the acts, but last week all charges against them were dropped and 14 were discontinued.
The firm then pleaded guilty to the remaining 14 charges which relate to the sale of stuffed animals including an eagle owl, two tawny owls, a robin, a red squirrel, a sparrowhawk, a Scottish wildcat, three peregrine falcons and a buzzard.
Bernard Horne defending said: "This is a very unusual set of offences and it is fair to say it's something the courts do not come across very often.
"The firm was not aware of the legislation in place as it is more used to dealing in furniture, antiques, ceramics and works of art.
"The offences are due to ignorance of the law and there was not any attempt to deliberately flout the regulations, it was a genuine mistake.
"Some of the animals on sale are between 30 and 40 years old and some date back to the 1960s, so all they believed they were doing was selling items which could be classed as antiques.
"This is not a global company. This is a local business which has always made a modest return and has had a good bill of health."
The Chairman of the Bench, Mrs Anne Siburuth, said: "We have considered the matter and it is clear that you were very negligent of the law and that you should have done your research."
After the hearing, wildlife officer PC Nick Mattock, who was involved in the raid, said: "I am pleased with today's result, which demonstrates that the police are willing to work alongside other agencies such as the RSPB and the National Wildlife Crime Unit to prosecute any firm committing offences of this nature.
"We are happy to see the court taking the matter as seriously."