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Posted by Wes vP on July 19, 2002 at 09:32:30:
In Reply to: Press: Illegal snake case is thrown out posted by Wes von Papinešu on July 18, 2002 at 22:28:09:
EVENING HERALD (Plymouth, UK) 18 July 02 Judge Throws Out Snake Men Case (Tristan Nichols)
Two men charged with keeping snakes without a licence had their case dismissed in court when police refused to name an informant.
The snake breeders, each charged with six offences under the Dangerous Wild Animals Act 1976, appeared at Plymouth magistrates court yesterday.
But District Judge Graham Parsons dismissed the case against Mark Craddock, of Luxmore Close, Leigham, and Darren Golden, of Conway Gardens, Beacon Park, after hearing details of how police obtained search warrants.
Officers raided the defendants' homes in May last year, and discovered 29 snakes.
Police said among the reptile haul were venomous and non-venomous snakes including Australian non-venomous bredl pythons and womas pythons, a venomous black tailed rattlesnake, three eyelash vipers and a gabbon viper, which has the longest fangs of any snake.
Dc Ian Gilbert, of Charles Cross police, told the court that police believed some of the snakes came from South America and Australia, outside the European Union.
He said: "The information that was given to us was that snakes had been imported illegally from outside the EU and were being held by the two men."
But solicitor Geoff Palby, acting on behalf of Mr Craddock, asked where the information had come from and added that the search warrant 'had to be obtained on the information that was given'.
He said that because the application for a search warrant did not contain reference to the snakes being obtained from outside the EU it was not valid.
When police refused to reveal the identity of their informant, the judge said: "The prosecution has decided that the statement should not be disclosed and offer no evidence.
"In that case the two men are dismissed."
Mr Craddock, aged 38, said after the hearing: "I feel unbelievably relieved. It has been 14 months of sitting around and waiting for us.
"Obviously we are happy with the outcome.
"We had all the paperwork and documents in order."
Mr Golden said, outside court, that the snakes were not being kept as pets, but as 'part of a study' for the International Herpetological Society of which he and Mr Craddock were members.
The 40-year-old said: "Our findings on their growth and other details were sent to the society's regular journal.
"We were sharing them with the society.
"We never imported or exported them outside Europe.
"We had documents for all the snakes and boas, but some of the bredls did not require any documents."