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25 October 2012, 16:54
An ex police officer from Suffolk's been given a suspended prison sentence for stealing hundreds of wild birds eggs .
A former policeman from Suffolk who admitted illegally possessing 650 wild bird eggs collected while he was a serving officer has been spared an immediate prison sentence.
Michael Upson was arrested after RSPB inspectors and police officers searched his house in Sotherton and found the eggs. The collection included those of protected species such as woodlark, Cetti's warbler and marsh harrier, the charity said.
Upson, 52, a former constable with Suffolk Police, pleaded guilty to possessing the eggs at Norwich Magistrates' Court following a joint investigation by his old force, Norfolk Police and the RSPB.
Magistrate Eamon Lambert told him the court had seriously considered imposing a jail term. Sentencing Upson to a 14-week sentence, suspended for 12 months, he said: "Your actions had a marked effect on the bird population and a serious impact on the environment."
Maps and notebooks documenting his egg collecting trips with others around the UK will be seized and destroyed.
Roger Thomson, mitigating, denied suggestions that his client had collected eggs while on duty. Earlier, the court had heard that the notebooks detailed visits to the Western Isles to steal golden eagle eggs, to south Devon to take Cetti's warbler eggs, to North Wales to steal chough eggs, and to the New Forest to take hawfinch eggs, the charity said.
Upson must also pay £120 in legal costs and complete 150 hours' unpaid work in the community.
A spokesman for Suffolk Police confirmed that Upson had been employed by the force, most recently as a training officer. Detective Inspector Jeff Yaxley said: "Public confidence in the police depends on those serving with us demonstrating the highest standards of personal and professional behaviour. Whilst it is always disappointing when an officer falls below those standards, the constabulary will continue to robustly investigate any allegations of criminal conduct by its employees."