Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Killer of rare butterfly given six-month suspended sentence

Phillip Cullen ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work after illegally capturing and killing specimens of the large blue

Friday 7 April 2017 12.41 BST Last modified on Friday 7 April 2017 22.00 BST 

An insect enthusiast who illegally captured and killed specimens of Britain’s rarest butterfly, the large blue, has been given a six-month suspended prison sentence. 

The amateur entomologist and former body builder Phillip Cullen, 57, was caught after being spotted by volunteers and wardens acting suspiciously at two nature reserves in the west of England.

When challenged by volunteers at one of the reserves, he claimed he was interested in parasitic wasps and orchids. 

Police later raided his terraced home in Cadbury Heath, near Bristol, and found a large number of mounted butterflies, including two large blues. 

Cullen’s sentence was suspended for two years and he was ordered to carry out 250 hours of unpaid work for capturing the globally endangered butterflies at two protected sites. 

He was also given a five-year criminal behaviour order banning him from three nature reserves where the large blue is found.

Prosecutor Ian Jackson told the court: “These charges are not brought on the grounds of cruelty, they are brought on the grounds of endangering a species – a rare and beautiful butterfly that has once been found extinct and is struggling to establish a foothold.”

Michael Hartnell, defending, said: “He accepts the enormity of what he has done. He only had one from each site, but he accepts that if everybody did that they would die out.

“He is extremely remorseful. His interest in the countryside and wildlife is one he has had for a long, long time.”

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