A GREAT-GRANDAD who kept over 100 birds in “shocking” conditions has pleaded guilty to 34 offences after an RSPCA investigation.
Malcolm Spencer, 67, of New Bolsover in Bolsover, was warned he could face jail after admitting a string of charges against him concerning bird welfare.
Chesterfield magistrates heard how Spencer possessed 61 wild birds, caused unnecessary suffering to three creatures, possessed traps for taking wild birds and tampered with bird rings, between July and September last year.
The court was shown a DVD taken by the RSPCA at the widower’s home which show 16 parrots living in “filthy” conditions.
In some cages there were up to eight inches of debris including faeces and rotten food, which totally covered lower level perches, there was no water and little light or ventilation.
Outside, a dead bullfinch was found in a bin and at Spencer’s nearby allotment, aviaries were shown containing wild birds in poor conditions, traps, several dead birds and evidence of vermin.
RSPCA Insp Carroll Lamport said the conditions were shocking. He believed the allotment site had been left deliberately overgrown to attract wild birds.
The court also heard “unnecessary suffering” had been caused to a skylark, whitethroat and mealy redpoll which had faecal balling of the feet, feather loss and parasitic condition.
Brian Orsborn prosecuting, said: “This is an important case in terms of wildlife crime.
“Unfortunately there are some people who decide for their own purpose to exploit birds, don’t abide by the rules and move birds around for profit and gain.
“In this case Mr Spencer immersed himself in that shady world.”
Insp Lamport added: “Trapping of wild birds is rife in certain parts of England and these birds trade for quite a lot of money. It’s not unusual for someone to be making a considerable income of £4,000 to £5,000 a year.”
In mitigation Annette Thomas said there was no evidence of any “financial gain” and Spencer kept the birds “purely for his own pleasure.”
She added: “He had been ill for some time and suffering from arthritis. He accepts he had not be able to care for them and is genuinely remorseful.”
The court heard how Spencer’s wife had died 11 years ago and the birds had “filled the void he would have spent with his wife.”
Magistrates told Spencer a custodial sentence could not be ruled out as they adjourned the sentencing until April 25.