Harold Hill scientist cautioned over sale of ivory

A biomedical scientist from Harold Hill caught selling illegal ivory jewellery on eBay has been let off with a caution.

Francis Benyure bombarded the online auction website with more than 3,000 listings for elephant ivory and hair bracelets and necklaces, the Health Professions Council (HPC) was told.

He was caught after a member of the public alerted police and an investigation was launched in March 2009 which discovered that Benyure had been selling the items to buyers in America, China and Africa.

The panel found that in light of Benyure’s conduct leading to a conviction, his fitness to practise was impaired.

It was told that after a 15-month investigation officers were led to his home in Launceton Close.

There they found scores of bracelets and tests carried out at the Natural History Museum showed that they were genuine elephant hair and ivory.

Benyure appeared at Basildon Crown Court on August 5 last year and admitted 12 counts of international trade in endangered species.

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He was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months, ordered to carry out 150 hours community service and obey a 9pm-6am curfew for four months. He was also told to pay costs of �500.

Panel chair Ian Crookall said: “The panel determined that the conviction of the registrant in dealing in ivory over a prolonged period on eBay brings the profession of biomedical science into disrepute and results in public confidence in the profession being undermined.”

Imposing a three year caution order he added: “Although trading in goods from an endangered species is illegal, the panel considered that the registrant has been given an appropriate sentence by the criminal court to demonstrate that such behaviour will not be tolerated in the UK.

“The panel noted that there were no concerns expressed in any of the documents that the registrant’s ability to practise as a biomedical scientist had been compromised and that he posed a danger to patients.

“References presented to the Crown Court confirmed that the Registrant is well thought of in the Pathology department.”

Lucy Alicea, for the HPC, told the panel that in a letter to the council Benyure admitted his guilt but said that he did not know that what he was doing was illegal.

“In the letter it stated that his motive was to help those that were manufacturing those products and that he received a nominal profit.”

She added that the sales were worth thousands of pounds over a two-year period since March 2007.

“He claims in that letter that he did not know it was illegal to sell those products.

“You may feel that it is unlikely that he could have been selling those products in the UK for that period of time and not known that it was illegal,” said Miss Alicea.

“The public component includes the need to uphold proper standards of behaviour and to maintain public confidence in the profession.

‘Mr Benyure’s actions fall below that standard,” she added.