A PART-time taxidermist has appeared in court accused of illegally importing skulls and animal skins of endangered species.
Stephen Brown, 47, denied fraudulently evading restrictions by importing the skins and skulls of caracals – a rare breed of wild cat – from South Africa between November 2010 and June 2011.
He pleaded also not guilty to two charges of importing goods with intent to evade prohibitions or restrictions between December 2010 and June 2011.
Mr Brown also denied illegally purchasing and importing an ocelot specimen between March and June 2011, keeping an illegally acquired caracal specimen for sale in June 2011 and illegally selling a specimen of a snowy owl before December 2010.
Prosecutors told St Helens Magistrates’ Court how all species of wild cat require both an export permit and an import permit from Animal Health – a subsidiary of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).
Mr Brown, who lives in a farm off Blindfoot Road, Eccleston, told JPs he is an amateur taxidermist. He is also accused of dodging paying “hundreds of pounds” in duty.
The court heard that prosecution evidence was discovered during a search of Mr Brown’s taxidermy workshop in an outbuilding at his home.
Although magistrates accepted jurisdiction in the case, Mr Brown asked for it to be heard before a judge and jury at the crown court.
He was granted unconditional bail prior to an appearance before Liverpool Crown Court on the morning of November 4.