A man has been sentenced after a chimpanzee skull which “still smelt from having been recently killed and prepared” was found in his house amongst other endangered animal parts.
Peter Prineas, 52, received a suspended jail sentence of ten months on Tuesday at Croydon Crown Court after he acquired a number of items protected under the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (COTES).
The MPS Wildlife Crime Unit (WCU) also found cheetah and leopard skins, claws from lions and brown bears, great white shark teeth and a killer whale tooth when searching Prineas’ property. It was discovered that he had been in contact online with a seller to buy a male gorilla skull to add to his illegal collection.
Prineas, of Orpington in south-east London, had four chimpanzee skulls, one of which is very likely to have been poached from the wild.
Prineas pleaded guilty to six counts under the Customs Excise Management Act and to two counts against COTES. He received a total sentence of ten months, which was suspended for 18 months.
WCU Investigating officer, DC Sarah Bailey, said: “People like Prineas tragically increase the pressure on these endangered species, putting a price on their heads by taking part in their illegal trade.”
Alyx Elliot, Campaign Manager for World Animal Protection welcomed the prosecution, saying: “We hope that this will encourage Londoners to report similar crimes involving endangered species to the Met’s Wildlife Crime Unit. The items seized illustrate the cruelty involved in this type of crime and the lengths that criminals will go to in order to exploit animals simply for financial gain.”