A former policeman 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 Suffolk, and found the eggs. The charity said they included eggs from a Cetti's warbler – which seized notebooks stated had been taken from a nest in South Devon – and chough eggs from Wales.
Upson, 52, a former constable with Suffolk Police, pleaded guilty to possessing the eggs at Norwich Magistrates' Court on Wednesday following a joint investigation by his old force, Norfolk Police and the RSPB.
Yesterday, 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.
Upson must also pay £120 in legal costs and complete 150 hours' unpaid work in the community.