Article from the Middle East National (22 June 2020)
Notorious wildlife thief loses bid for freedom
A serial criminal notorious for smuggling rare bird eggs to the Middle East has lost a bid to be released from a UK prison.
Jeffrey Lendrum, 59, is eligible for release from jail after serving part of a 37-month sentence for trying to smuggle 19 eagle and kestrel eggs into Britain.
Each of the eggs could have fetched up to £8,000 (Dh36,273/$9,877) on the black market.
[Lendrum with raptor eggs strapped to his body in a sling at Heathrow Airport in June 2018, photo Crown Prosecution Service]
A judge told Lendrum that he must remain in prison because he faces another sentence of four and a half years in Brazil after being caught trying to take eggs from Sao Paulo to Johannesburg in 2015.
He fled the country after his conviction and Brazilian prosecutors are now seeking his extradition so that he could serve his sentence. He also has convictions in Canada and Zimbabwe.
Police believe that the ultimate destination for chicks and eggs smuggled by Lendrum was the Middle East, where they are highly prized in the falcon market.
Called the Pablo Escobar of the egg trade, he is as notorious for the extent of his global crimes as he is for his incompetence in evading capture.
Lendrum was arrested in London in June 2018 after security staff at Heathrow became suspicious of the heavy coat he was wearing on a warm day.
Seven years earlier, the Irish passport holder was arrested at Birmingham Airport when he went into the showers in the Emirates business class lounge but did not use any water.
A cleaner raised the alarm fearing that he was a terrorist.
Lawyers for Lendrum were preparing an appeal when he fled Brazil in 2015. He claimed that he was running out of money and “suffering from spider bites that needed medication”.
Refusing him bail, Mr Justice Fordham told London’s High Court that that Lendrum was a professional criminal who was responsible for a “pattern of unabated offending in the context of wild bird eggs and their export”.
“That is a serious and lucrative crime,” Mr Fordham said.
He said there were serious grounds to believe that if the applicant were released he would commit another offence on bail.