Sissen decision delayed

"Sissen decision delayed". A report in Cage & Aviary Birds for the week ending 13th July 2002.

Rare parrot breeder Harry Sissen must wait at least another six weeks to find out the fate of 144 birds seized in raids on his farm four years ago.

Judgement was reserved at the end of the three-and-a-half day civil hearing at Harrogate Magistrates’ Court to decide whether the birds will be returned to him or forfeited.

The case had already been adjourned for two weeks to allow him to produce DNA evidence proving the birds were related and were bred at his North Yorkshire farm.

In his defence he called the boss of bird DNA analysis laboratory Avian Biotech International, Jim Reeves, as an expert witness. Jim Reeves travelled up from Cornwall for the case but was challenged by Customs and Excise’s barrister, Simon Draycott QC, about his lack of a university degree or relevant scientific training.

District Judge Roy Anderson ruled that Jim Reeves could not be regarded as an expert witness, but he was allowed to present the lab report.

Jim Reeves explained that a proportion of the DNA tests indicated Harry Sissen’s birds were related, but not all tests confirmed a relationship. However, Simon Draycott told the court the DNA figures presented were irrelevant, and that there was evidence, including faxes to and from dealers, which amounted to shopping lists, to show Harry Sissen had been smuggling birds from outside the European Union.

He claimed that any aviary-bred birds were indistinguishable from those illegally imported and so were automatically liable to forfeiture.

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

Horace (65-8 BC)