Former bird centre owner guilty of stealing rare owls
A former owner of the National Birds of Prey Centre near Newent in Gloucestershire has been convicted of stealing rare owls from zoos.
Keith Beaven, 68, of Staunton near Gloucester, was found guilty at Gloucester Crown Court of theft, fraud, and illegally selling birds.
Beaven tricked various zoos in Europe into thinking he was still running the centre despite having sold it in 2008.
He pretended he wanted to borrow the birds as part of a breeding programme.
The court heard that Beaven deceived Paignton Zoo in Devon and zoos in Germany and the Czech Republic.
He sold the birds after getting into financial trouble.
Beaven was convicted of three charges of theft of owls, two of fraud and one of prohibited sale of black kites, after he claimed he did not have the correct paperwork because they had been bred in captivity
At an earlier hearing he admitted stealing two northern hawk owls from a zoo in the Czech Republic, claiming he owned them and had authority to sell them.
He was found not guilty of two charges relating to fraud and theft of owls from Dudley Zoo.
He is due to be sentenced on 18 June.