Illegal elephant ivory trade run from Romford home

�A man who used his Romford home as a base to sell illegal ivory jewellery on eBay has been spared jail.

Francis Benyure swamped the online auction website with more than 3,000 listings for elephant ivory and hair bracelets, using the name Arts-Crafts-Gallery, Havering Police told the Recorder.

He had been selling the bangles for as much as $60 and as little as $2 each – mainly to buyers in the USA – until a concerned member of the public alerted police and an investigation was launched in March 2009.

A “long and arduous” 15-month probe by Havering Police and The Met Police Wildlife Crime Unit led them to Benyure’s Launceston Close home.

There police found a large quantity of trinkets.

Officers worked with the Natural History Museum, in south west London, where tests proved the items were genuine.

Endangered species

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Benyure appeared at Basildon Crown Court on Monday, and pleaded guilty to the trading of endangered species.

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.

Afterwards, Sgt Ian Knox, head of the Wildlife Crime Unit, said: “This is an excellent result due entirely to Havering wildlife officers’ very hard work and dedication in getting this case before the courts. The sentence sends out a clear message to others who are involved in this trade within the UK that illegal trade in wildlife, their parts and derivatives, will not be tolerated.”

Will Travers, of wildlife charity Born Free, said:“The life of a single elephant is surely worth more than �500 and some community service? Such sentences do little to deter wildlife crime or recognise the sacrifice that rangers in Africa and Asia make when they put their lives on the line to protect elephants from poachers.”