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Thief jailed for stealing valuable parrots from Paultons Park

Macaws Myrtle and Monty.

Macaws Myrtle and Monty.

First published in Crime Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Court Reporter

“WHO’S a silly boy then?”

A Hampshire man thought it was a prank to take two valuable parrots from a top attraction.

But the joke has backfired on Justin Robertson – now he and the birds are securely behind bars after he found himself up before the beak.

The breeding pair of macaws with their distinctive blue and gold plumage had been a major feature at Paultons Park, near Romsey, for eight years but, in January last year, they went missing.

Myrtle and Monty’s disappearance went unnoticed for several hours until their afternoon feeding when their keeper noticed they had gone.

Wires on their steel-framed cage had been dislodged, said prosecutor Megan Topliss.

Southampton Crown Court heard how police studied closed circuit television footage and spotted four men clambering over a security gate.

One they recognised as 34-year-old Robertson.

The macaws’ flight of freedom was, however, short-lived.

Four days later, they were back at Paultons after a woman was overheard talking about them and they were recovered from another man’s house.

The birds, worth about £3,000, were in good health.

Judge Peter Henry heard Robertson took part in a night raid on the Beaulieu organic farm shop about a month later when he acted as lookout as three accomplices raided the premises. But they activated the alarm, which was heard by a neighbour who called the police.

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They passed the gang’s car going in the opposite direction and after turning round, found joints of meat lying in the road and then their car which had crashed near crossroads. Other meat was found crammed in the footwell and boot.

The stolen load, valued about £3,000, had to be destroyed because of contamination, the prosecutor added.

Robertson, of The Mill Pond, Holbury, admitted theft, burglary and three charges of failing to surrender to court.

Said to already have 28 convictions spanning 69 offences, he was jailed for 14 months.

Judge Peter Henry told him: “I don’t accept you are as unsophisticated as you say in your letter to me. You played a full part in the theft of these valuable birds which are an attraction at the park for the pleasure of the public. You didn’t turn up without planning. It was a clearly planned theft.”

In mitigation, Ian Hope said Robertson had been homeless at the time of both offences and had been led into them.

He said: “The macaws were not targeted for their value. It was something of a prank, a laugh.

The best thing which can be said is that they were recovered in good health.”

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