RSPCA officers find 21 perfectly preserved  wild birds in jars stuffed in freezer at man's home

  • Christopher Searle also had traps in his garden and examples of stuffed birds in his house

RSPCA officers investigating allegations of wild bird trapping at a house were left horrified after finding scores of birds dead in a freezer.

Christopher Searle had 21 dead birds stored in jars and 16 live wild birds at his home in Braunton, Devon.

The birds found in his possession included greenfinches, chaffinches, a bullfinch, a goldfinch, a woodpecker and a song thrush.

One of the birds which was found in a freezer belonging to Christopher Searle
One of the wild birds that were found in a freezer belonging to Christopher Searle

Grim: RSPCA officers found 21 dead birds at Christopher Searle's home in Devon. They were stored in jars and kept in the freezer

One of the wild birds found in a freezer belonging to Christopher Searle
One of the wild birds found in a freezer belonging to Christopher Searle

Unpleasant: The birds found in Searle's house included greenfinches, chaffinches, a bullfinch, goldfinch, woodpecker and a song thrush

The 63-year-old also had traps in his garden and examples of stuffed birds in his house.

RSPCA inspector Amanda Swift, who investigated the case, said it was like no other she has dealt with before.

She said: 'It is a very unusual case.

'We know these things go on but they are always very underground.

'In the house there were some stuffed birds, such as a sparrowhawk with a greenfinch in its claws.

'But it is impossible to tell if Mr Searle did the taxidermy or not.

Prosecuted: Christopher Searle, 63, admitted seven charges under the Wildfare and Countryside Act and the Animal Welfare Act
Cruel: Cages used to trap wild birds were found Christopher Searle's shed

Prosecuted: Christopher Searle, 63, left, admitted seven charges under the Wildfare and Countryside Act and the Animal Welfare Act. Pictured right are cages used to trap wild birds which were found in his shed

Shocking: The RSPCA inspector who investigated the case said it was like nothing she has dealt with before

Shocking: The RSPCA inspector who investigated the case said it was like nothing she has dealt with before

'It certainly seemed like that is what he was going to do with the frozen birds as there was not a mark on them, they were perfect specimens.'

The animal welfare charity began investigating Searle after it received anonymous phone calls to say traps had been seen in his garden.

The inspector said it was not known how the birds died.

She added: 'I am not sure l ever want to know.'

Searle, 63, appeared at North Devon Magistrates’ Court on March 14 and admitted seven charges under the Wildlife and Countryside Act and the Animal Welfare Act.

Searle pleaded guilty to possessing 21 dead wild birds and a separate charge of possessing 16 live wild birds.

Unusual: Cages used to trap wild birds were found in Christopher Searle's garden, pictured

Unusual: Cages used to trap wild birds were found in Christopher Searle's garden, pictured

He also admitted a charge of not providing the wild birds with a suitable environment and a similar charge relating to two doves, seven hens, a cockerel, two cockatiels and two pigeons.

Searle further admitted a charge of possessing four drop traps and a spring trap and two charges of not providing a rabbit and a pigeon with an adequate diet.

An eighth charge of causing unnecessary suffering to seven hens and a cockerel was dropped.

Searle spoke only to confirm his name and address and to indicate his guilty plea to each charge.

The defendant’s solicitor Rod Ball told magistrates his client suffered from schizophrenia and depression.

He said his client had suffered from mental illness for the past 40 years and asked magistrates to allow time for a pre-sentence report to be done.

Magistrates agreed and the case has been adjourned until April 11.

All the live animals found at Searle’s property have now been successfully re-homed.