Couple Taped Up Tortoises To Smuggle Into Britain


Herpetologist Michael Mates and his partner Carol Wormley, both 42 and from Walthamstow, east London, returned from Corfu with the animals hidden in luggage, magistrates in Harlow, Essex, were told.Both were ordered to carry out unpaid work and banned from keeping reptiles for 10 years after admitting breaking laws designed to protect wildlife. Prosecutor Angela Hughes said the Hermann’s Tortoises had been taken from their natural habitat in Corfu then packed in bags and suitcases. She said one was taped to stop it moving around.

Miss Hughes said the couple kept the creatures in a hotel room before taking them on to a plane and flying to Stansted.She told the court that both were arrested when they landed at the airport in July.Magistrates were told that Gates was a herpetologist who had a collection of reptiles.Jeremy Sirrell, for Gates, said his client had been trying to rescue the tortoises after seeing them treated cruelly and had not intended to sell them.