Woman who tried to sell tiger skin rugs on eBay given suspended prison term

An expert examined the rugs and thought both of the tigers were killed after 1947  [DEFRA/ERIC MORTON]
An expert examined the rugs and thought both of the tigers were killed after 1947 [DEFRA/ERIC MORTON]

According to prosecutors, the tiger skin rugs came from a type of tiger that became extinct in the 1980s and one of the dead animals may have been among the last of its kind.

Dovile Vaitkeviciute, who traded on the auction site as Mr. Muffins Tiny Shop, admitted five offences in court. The 31-year-old, of Woodstock Avenue, Nottingham, was given a six-month suspended sentence for two years.

Vaitkeviciute was prosecuted after police saw one of the adverts on eBay. One of the skins was advertised for £5,000.

Animal rugs are classed as antiques and can be legally sold if the creature was killed prior to 1947.

However, an expert examined the skins and thought both had been killed after 1947. Further tests indicated one of the tigers was killed in the late 1970s.

Crown Prosecution Service lawyer Yemi Awosika said sales of such items was a “highly lucrative criminal business” which threatened the survival of tigers in the wild.

“Sadly the sub-species of tiger that these skins came from became extinct in the 1980s and a prosecution expert said this particular tiger may well have been one of the last of its kind. That these items were from a species that is already extinct shows how critical it is that we prosecute this illegal criminal activity,” she added.

Tigers are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

In order to trade tiger skins, sellers need to prove they originate before 1947, the item is tanned and lined and they were obtained legally.

Police raided a home in Mark Road, Haringey, London, where Vaitkeviciute was living, in 2014.

Officers seized several animal skins but the defendant continued to offer a second tiger rug for sale while still under investigation.

She pleaded guilty to one count of knowingly and recklessly making a false statement and representation to obtain a permit and/or certificate and four counts of purchasing and/or offering to purchase, selling, keeping for sale a specimen of an endangered species.

As well as the suspended sentence, Vaitkeviciute was ordered by Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work, pay £605 costs, and a £80 victim surcharge.

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