Bluebell thieves fined after stealing 8,000 bulbs from woodland

A blanket of Bluebells in full flower inside Foxley Wood. Picture: Ian Burt

Bluebell thieves have been fined after stealing 8,000 bulbs during lockdown. - Credit: Ian Burt

Two men and two women have been fined for stealing thousands of wild British Bluebell plants from a woodland in Fakenham during lockdown earlier this year.

King's Lynn Magistrates' Court heard how police had attended a privately-owned woods in Fakenham on Tuesday, March 23, after receiving a call from a member of the public who reported seeing people acting suspiciously in the area.

When officers arrived at the scene, they discovered several large sacks and mail bags filled with approximately 8,000 bulbs that had recently been uprooted.

The four defendants at court were heard to have left their homes in Lincolnshire back in March, while the country was under tier four lockdown restrictions, to travel more than an hour to Norfolk before stealing the plants.

Native British Bluebells are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act along with all other native wild plants and bulbs, and it is an offence to intentionally uproot any wild plant unless authorised to do so.

Robert Barnes, 30, of Park Lane, Spalding and Saskia Jackson, 28, of Lowgate, Spalding appeared at court on December 1, pleading guilty to charges of uprooting wild plants.

While James Cross, 30, of Anfield Road, Spalding and Katie Bingham, 20, of Anfield Road, Spalding appeared at King’s Lynn Magistrates’ Court on October 14, also pleading guilty to charges of uprooting wild plants.

Katie Bingham and James Cross were fined and ordered to pay costs totalling just under £500 each, Saskia Jackson was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £270 and Robert Barnes was fined and ordered to pay costs totalling £301, along with being given a 12-month court order to complete 40 hours of unpaid work.