Appeal date set for Sissen

Appeal date set for Sissen. A report in Cage & Aviary Birds week ending 4. November 2000

Jailed endangered parrot breeder Harry Sissen is to have his appeal heard in London in two weeks’ time.

At the Court of Appeal hearing on November 17 he will argue that his conviction for illegally importing nine rare macaws was unsafe, as transportation of birds between countries within the European Community should not constitute an offence.

And he will claim that the two and-a-half-year sentence he is currently serving was excessive for a charge of illegal importation.

He may also maintain that he was not dealt with fairly when interviewed by Customs & Excise on his arrest.

The hearing, which is expected to last no more than a day, comes six months after the 13-day crown court trial in Newcastle which ended in his conviction.

Media interest

The case attracted widespread media interest and numbered Conservative Party leader William Hague among the witnesses.

The charges against the North Yorkshire farmer centred around the illegal importation of three Lear’s macaws and six blue-headed macaws into Britain.

A total of 139 parrots were seized in two raids on his home by Customs officials in April and May 1998, among them some of the most endangered species in the world. A year ago it was revealed that 16 had since died.

Confiscation proceedings concerning the birds have been brought by Customs and look likely to go ahead in February next year.


If the appeal is successful then confiscation may be dropped and the birds returned, though currently only 69 birds are listed as subject to the proceedings. These include five military macaws, two hawk-head parrots, eight hyacinthine macaws, 14 red-fronted macaws,13 caninde macaws, nine scarlet macaws and 18 Buffon’s macaws - the most expensive of the missing birds.

Not on the list but also seized in the raids are red-vented cockatoos, triton cockatoos, Galah cockatoos, greater sulphur-crested cockatoos red-tailed and yellow-tailed black cockatoos, kea parrots, Illigers, Leadbetter’s cockatoos and Goliath palm cockatoos.

Customs have lodged a claim for £404,000 ($ 600,000) - the amount they claim he will have benefited from his years of bird breeding

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 " Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret "

( If you drive out nature with a pitchfork, she will soon find a way back)

Horace (65-8 BC)