Man who traded in endangered animal parts gets community service

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A man from who sold skulls and teeth from rare aquatic animals has been given community service.

Steven Paterson (48) from Glenrothes, Fife, who sold the items through his online business, is the first person in Scotland to be convicted of trading parts of endangered animal species.

He was caught after officials from the UK Border Agency spotted his website, Shark Global Imports, which was being advertised as the "number one website for shark teeth".

When police searched his home in Glenrothes, Fife, they discovered 517 shark jaws, 78 teeth, skulls — including one of a pilot whale — and a skin, pelt and claws.

Shona McJannett, prosecuting, said Paterson didn't have a trading licence, but his site offered a number of items for sale, including two dead green turtles.

She said: "He admitted buying them on eBay and selling them for £79.00 and £89.99 each. He said he had been naive."

Paterson also admitted to buying a pilot whale skull, the skulls of two harbour porpoises and the tooth of a dead sperm whale, which he advertised for sale on his website.

He admitted charges of using rare animal parts for commercial gain, contrary to the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulation Act.

Paterson's defence said that the business was "a personal interest of his" and that he was not running it as a commercial venture.

His pleas of not guilty to offering two sawfish saws and a walrus tusk for sale were accepted. He was sentenced to 160 hours of community service.

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: "The specimens in this case were from species that are identified as the most endangered under both European and domestic legislation.

"Trade in such specimens is only permitted under specific permission from the regulating authorities. The accused had made unsuccessful applications in 2007 and 2009 for such permission."

Craig Harris, head of the wildlife and environmental crime unit, said: "The illegal trade of plant and animal specimens contributes to the depletion of wildlife populations which, in turn, has brought some species close to extinction."

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