A former Suffolk police officer, Michael Upson (of Sotherton, Suffolk) has pleaded guilty today at Norwich Magistrates Court of possessing 650 wild bird eggs collected while he was still in the Suffolk Constabulary. This follows a successful investigation by the Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies and the RSPB.
The 52-year-old was investigated by officers from the professional standards department. On 21 June 2012, a search by the police and the RSPB at Upson’s home revealed 650 wild bird’s eggs, including those of protected species such as woodlark, Cetti’s warbler and marsh harrier.
Detailed notebooks found at the house documented the police officer’s egg collecting trips with associates around the UK, including visits to: the Western Isles to steal golden eagle eggs; south Devon to take Cetti’s warbler eggs; North Wales to steal chough eggs; and the New Forest to take hawfinch eggs. These notebooks also document him taking kittiwake eggs from Lowestoft Pier, while on duty as an acting Sergeant on three different police night-shifts.
Upson claimed to have stopped egg collecting, and the evidence found indicates that he was active between at least 1991 and 2001.
Mark Thomas, the RSPB investigations officer leading the case, said: “That a police officer should knowingly break the law in pursuit of this obsession is shocking, and we welcome his conviction.
“Evidence from the diaries indicates that Upson stole over 900 wild bird eggs in a eight-year period. Not all of these eggs were recovered.”
The egg collection was found in the loft in an old suitcase along with hundreds of egg data cards, which he had faked to suggest the collection was old. However, the notebooks found in a plastic container hidden in the water tank in the loft gave all the accurate details of when the eggs were taken, in full written accounts.
Upson will be sentenced at Norwich Magistrates Court tomorrow (Thursday 25th October).