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Ex-owner of Ballymena pet shop denies trying to sell lizard on danger list

By Nevin Farrell

A man who once ran a pet shop in Ballymena is contesting an accusation of trading in an endangered species.

Richard Potter (34), of Hollow Lane, Cloughmills, is charged with acquiring for commercial purposes a rhinoceros iguana, as prohibited by the Control of Trade in Endangered Species regulations.

It is alleged the offence was committed on a date unknown between January 1, 2013 and January 16, 2016.

He also faces a second charge that on dates unknown during the same period he displayed, for commercial purposes, a rhinoceros iguana as prohibited by the same regulations.

The rhinoceros iguana, also know as the goliath dragon, is a lizard primarily found on the Carribean island of Hispaniola.

The case was mentioned at Ballymena Magistrates Court yesterday, but the accused was not present.

A prosecutor said a number of matters remained outstanding with regards to the case.

Mr Potter's defence barrister Aaron Thompson said the charges were being contested and that there were "a few complexities" to the matter.

Fixing a date for the case to be contested in the Magistrates Court next month, District Judge Peter King noted that Mr Potter was "no stranger to these sort of prosecutions". At a previous hearing, another defence barrister, Neil Moore, said the case would come down to the evidence of an expert.

He claimed that "essentially, the animal had been shown on a website", and that allegations were made that was "part and parcel of conducting business".

Mr Moore said the pet shop, Jungle World, had now closed, with a bankruptcy notice pending.

Jungle World - which was based at Linenhall Street in the town - had been in the news on a number of occasions.

An exotic pet shop, it also had a small "zoo" at the back of the premises.

Among the inhabitants were a six-foot alligator, a four-foot crocodile, an 18-foot python and spider monkeys called Winston and Lillie.

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