Man kept owl heads in jam jars to sell as artefacts for witches

Inverness Sheriff Court. Picture: Neil Hanna
Inverness Sheriff Court. Picture: Neil Hanna

Body parts of endangered birds were found after a police raid on a man who sold artefacts and trinkets for white witches and shamans.

Gordon Taylor used a cupboard in his Inverness home as a workshop for his website Wild Wizard Crafts to make the items.

Using the name Kai Seidr, the 46-year-old had two barn owl heads in jam jars, a pendant made from a tawny owl foot and another artefact made from a buzzard wing.

He also had bags containing feathers from all three species, some of which were also made into items he wanted to sell online. All of them could have sold for a total of £695, Inverness Sheriff Court heard.

Taylor, whose, who now lives in Midlothian but whose address was given as Leyton Drive, Inverness, admitted possessing the specimens of the birds and keeping them for sale, contrary to the Control of Trade in Endangered Species Regulations. He was fined £750.

Fiscal depute David Morton told Sheriff David Sutherland that Taylor faced either a fine or a maximum of 12 months in prison.

He added that it was not suggested Taylor was responsible for the death of the birds.

He said: “There is an international agreement between governments with its aim to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.

“It is implemented by the EU and given effect in the UK by the Control of Trade in Endangered Species (Enforcement) Regulations, 1997.”

“Species are classified according to the risk they face.”

Mr Morton said that the three raptors were included on the Class A list of species threatened with extinction.

The prohibitions include purchase for sale, offer for sale or keep for sale specimens of any of the species without a certificate.

Mr Morton said that Taylor did not have a certificate of permission.

Two of the items found were a pendant containing a common buzzard feather and a buzzard wing. A wooden artefact contained a buzzard and a tawny owl feather.

Another pendant consisted of a tawny owl foot, plus a bag and two collections of tawny owl feathers and wings.

The most gruesome find were two barn owl heads in jam jars and two bags of Barn Owl feathers.

Defence solicitor Clare Russell said: “My client’s position is one of ignorance but it is no defence in law. He did not know about the required certificates to have these items. He is more than aware now of the legislation”

“He is more that aware now of the legislation. He had purchased the various items to which he was not entitled and kept them for sale.”

She asked the Sheriff not to jail Taylor but to impose a fine.

Sheriff Sutherland told Taylor: “This is a quite reduce charge from what you originally faced. Given this and your absence of record in recent years, I will impose a financial penalty, but it is a serious matter.”

Taylor refused to comment as he left court.