Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

White rhino horn smuggler jailed

A man has been jailed for attempting to smuggle white rhino horns

An antiques dealer has been jailed for 12 months after he attempted to smuggle the horns of a white rhino worth up to £180,000 in a fake statue.

Donald Allison, 62, told border agency officials at Manchester Airport that he was taking the Vienna bronze sculpture of a bird on a log to a friend in China who had bought it in the UK for £2,000.

Hidden inside the false resin log were two rhino horns which were wrapped in cling film and tape.

They were destined for the lucrative Far East medicine market where powdered horn is believed to cure cancer - with one kilo fetching up to 30,000 US dollars.

The horns were removed from the body of Simba, a 41-year-old Southern African rhinoceros, who was humanely destroyed at Colchester Zoo in April 2009.

It was not known who removed the horns weighing more than nine kilos before Simba's body was disposed of at a waste incinerator by a local firm, Manchester Crown Court heard.

Using DNA samples a UK Border Agency investigation team was able to trace the horns back to Simba by matching blood samples still held by the zoo.

Jonathan Savage, prosecuting, said Allison, of Wilpshire, Blackburn, was stopped by UKBA officials on June 30 last year as he awaited to board a flight to China via Amsterdam.

The defendant was allowed to go on his way after the statue was seized and the concealed horns were revealed on X-ray examination.

When interviewed two months later, Allison said he was taking to the statue to a man called Mr Payne who he had met at antique fairs in London, the prosecutor said.

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