Tower Hamlets egg poacher has pleaded guilty to “one the most serious cases of wildlife crime”

Matthew Gonshaw's wild bird egg collection pic: The Metropolitan Police

A man from Tower Hamlets has pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of rare bird eggs.

Matthew Gonshaw, 49 from Bow, was given a four month sentence after being charged with ten offences at Thames Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday, including the theft and possession of golden eagle and osprey eggs. 

Over 700 eggs were discovered at his home address, along with climbing equipment, camouflaged clothing and illegal detailed maps of nesting spots of rare birds.

Mark Thomas, an RSPB representative, said: “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.”

The Metropolitan Police Wildlife Crime Unit worked with the RSPB to bring a case against Gonshaw. The Met was first alerted to his illegal activities in June after Gonshaw was arrested in Scotland for stealing the eggs of wild birds.

Police Constable 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 jeopardise Britain’s wildlife and his obsession with collection 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.”

Among his collection, Gonshaw also had kite, peregrine falcon, dotterel, redwing and merlin eggs.


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