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Man in court charged with killing UK's rarest butterfly

News Agencies | Updated on: 11 January 2017, 17:12 IST

A 57-year-old man in the UK has appeared in court charged with capturing and killing two of Britain's rarest species of butterfly.

Phillip Cullen, of Cadbury Heath, Bristol, is accused of six offences related to the endangered Large Blue (Maculinea arion).

He is alleged to have captured and killed two butterflies from sites in Gloucestershire and Somerset in 2015.

He denied all charges at Bristol Magistrates' Court and was granted unconditional bail yesterday. Cullen will appear for trial on March 16, BBC reported.

The prosecution is believed to be the first involving offences related to Large Blue butterflies in the UK.

The court heard the two butterflies were allegedly taken from Daneway Banks near Cirencester, Gloucestershire, on June 18, 2015, and from Collard Hill, near Street, Somerset, between June 17 and 20 that year.

It is claimed that witnesses saw Cullen taking them before killing and mounting them in a display case.

Dead butterflies were found at Cullen's Bristol home on February 13 last year after a police search, the court was told.

Prosecutor Kevin Withey told the court, "The defendant faces charges in terms of capturing, killing and possession of a protected butterfly.

"The butterfly became extinct in this country in the late 1970s and was reintroduced and is a protected species in certain parts of the country," he said.

"Significant care is given to its wellbeing and its hopeful future flourishing," Withey said.

The globally-endangered species has always been rare in Britain, but became extinct in 1979.

In 2004, it was found on nine sites in the country following a major conservation programme.


First published: 11 January 2017, 17:12 IST