Former bird sanctuary owner ‘illegally stole and sold endangered species of birds’
Keith Beaven, 68, is the former boss of Newent’s International Birds of Prey Centre and he has been in court accused with a number of crimes including the theft and illegal sales of a number of birds.
Beaven allegedly pretended to run a rare breeding programme and borrowed endangered species of birds from zoos, however, he then illegally sold them on.
The court heard that Beaven convinced wildlife centres around both Britain and Europe to loan him a number of birds to help protect their populations.
However, he is then alleged to have faked or altered official ownership certificates and proceeded to sell the birds of prey to different buyers.
Some of his scams were carried out whilst running the Newent centre, which had run into financial problems, the jury was told. One incident involved him being in the process of acquiring a milky owl from a zoo in Germany, whilst contacting an Italian vendor promising to sell him the bird.
As well as all of the above, he is also being accused of stealing two eagle owls from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs, and a Ural owl, a spotted owl and a Boobook owl owned by Dudley Zoo in the West Midlands.
Other birds that he has been accused of stealing include the milky owl owned by Heidelburg Zoo in Germany and a milky owl from Paignton Zoo in Devon.
Beaven is being tried at Gloucester Crown Court.
He pleaded not guilty to four counts of theft, four counts of fraud and one of selling three endangered black kites.
However, he pleaded guilty to one charge of fraud and one of theft.
The centre is no longer under his ownership after he sold it back to his predecessor Jemima Parry-Jones in 2008.
The week-long trial continues.
Picture: Marie Hale