A retired teacher received a criminal record for having an illegal stuffed animal collection after a house buyer spotted images on an estate agent website.
When Susan Tate, 57, put her house in Newborough up for sale, pictures of the animals appeared on the Zoopla site – including one of a toy wolf on top of a cabinet in her living room.
It led to a raid by police – accompanied by a film crew from BBC’s Crimewatch – who seized 20 stuffed animals and bones.
Susan Tate, 57, received a criminal record for her illegal stuffed animal collection after she posted pictures of them in a house advert on Zoopla
Most of the former biology teacher’s pieces were returned as they were perfectly legal, but four of the items landed her in trouble, including a porpoise skull she found on a beach, a stuffed Scottish wildcat she inherited from her mother and a red squirrel bought on eBay years ago.
The mother of one said she had no idea the items were illegal but had no choice but to plead guilty and accept a £224 fine, plus £650 costs when the matter was brought to court.
Mrs Tate, whose parents were police officers, now has a criminal record and has criticised police and the BBC for the ‘heavy-handed’ raid on the home she shares with security worker husband, Jonathan, 56.
It led to a raid by police – accompanied by a film crew from BBC’s Crimewatch – who seized 20 stuffed animals and bones
She said: ‘The police said they received information from someone about the wolf online and checked if I had a certificate to own a stuffed wolf, and obviously I don’t.
‘It’s ridiculous that’s how they got a warrant. It was just a toy.
‘The whole thing has done me a lot of harm. How the police handled it was appalling and I was devastated by it. I thought they were going to send me to jail and I was absolutely terrified. My husband said “there’s a film crew outside” and we could not believe it.
‘I realise I have done something wrong but that was not justified. It was heavy-handed to have the BBC turn up.
‘We live in a small village and it was turned into a circus. I was made out to be a major criminal.’
The raid was shown on Crimewatch a month later, and Mrs Tate said she felt ‘vilified’ in front of the nation
Seven officers from North Wales Police’s rural crime team and a TV crew of three arrived at Mrs Tate’s home in Newborough, on Anglesey, on February 5.
The raid was shown on Crimewatch a month later, and Mrs Tate said she felt ‘vilified’ in front of the nation.
She said she was ‘blindly oblivious’ her taxidermy collection was breaking the law, adding: ‘I am fascinated by it all and I certainly have never wanted to harm anything. I never dreamt I might have been prosecuted for owning them, it never crossed my mind.’
After initially pleading not guilty at a preliminary hearing, Mrs Tate admitted four counts of possession of a dead wild animal at Caernarvon Magistrates’ Court on Friday last week. She was fined £56 for each of the four charges and ordered to pay £650 costs.