A MAN has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after trying to smuggle rare birds eggs - worth £70,000 - out of the country.
Jeffrey Lendrum, 48, of Northamptonshire, was confronted by counter-terrorism police at Birmingham Airport as he prepared to board a plane to Dubai on May 3, this year.
Officers discovered he’d strapped the clutch of peregrine falcon eggs to his chest, hoping to keep them warm.
At first he said they were chicken eggs from Waitrose, before trying to dupe officers by claiming they were a remedy for back pain.
The case is believed to be the first of its kind in this country for 20 years.
Appearing at Warwick Crown Court last week, Lendrum admitted stealing the eggs from a mountain in Rhondda, South Wales.
He also pleaded guilty to attempting to evade export restrictions and was handed a 30-month jail sentence.
Officers managed to keep the eggs warm by putting them on top of their computers and turning them regularly.
An expert from the National Wildlife Crime Unit confirmed they were peregine falcons - a protected species of bird. The clutch was then handed over to Midlands’ falconer Lee Featherstone, who managed to hatch 11 of the 14 eggs.
Seven of the hatchlings have been placed in nests containing other chicks, while the rest are in a wildlife-release programme.
There are only 1400 breeding pairs of peregrines in the whole of the UK.
The court heard that Lendrum already had two convictions for similar offences - one in Zimbabwe and another in Canada.
In one instance he’d been lowered down from a helicopter to snatch his illegal prize.