Woman who sold jewellery and ornaments made from illegal elephant ivory online fined £1,400

Woman who sold jewellery and ornaments made from illegal elephant ivory online fined £1,400

Joyce Bell, 67, made money from selling the carved ivory items to customers, many in China, between 2016 to 2022. 

In what is believed to be the first prosecution in Scotland of its kind, she admitted at Dundee Sheriff Court to illegally selling a number of items made of Ivory, in breach of the Ivory Act 2018.  

She also admitted to exporting numerous items made of Ivory without applying for or obtaining an export permit from the Animal Plant and Health Authority (APHA), contrary to the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979. 

Iain Batho, who leads for the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service’s Wildlife and Economic Crime Unit (WECU), said:  

"Since the Ivory Act 2018 came into force on 6 June 2022, it is a criminal offence to deal in ivory, with only a few very specific exemptions. A common misunderstanding is that items containing ivory crafted before 1947 can be sold legally, but this is not the case.  

“The exemption for items pre-dating 1947 only applies if the item is made up of less than 10% ivory, the ivory is integral to the item and if it has been lawfully registered. 

“Any member of the public dealing in items which may contain ivory are strongly encouraged to familiarise themselves with the terms of the Ivory Act 2018. 

“In this case, whilst the actions of Joyce Bell may seem remote from the suffering of elephants in the wild, the two are directly linked. Without an illegal ivory market driving demand for such items there would be no need for the ongoing harm being caused to wild elephants. 

COPFS takes offences committed under the Ivory Act seriously and action will be taken against those who choose to engage in such conduct, where there is sufficient evidence of a crime and where it is in the overall public interest to do so. 

The result in this case is a testament to the collaborative working between COPFS, Police Scotland, the UK National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU) and the UK Border Force Agency." 

The court heard how over a period of six years, Border Force officers at Heathrow Airport seized seven parcels which they suspected contained ivory. The majority of the parcels intercepted were destined for China. 

They highlighted the goods to the National Wildlife Crime Unit (NWCU), a UK wide police unit which deals with wildlife crime throughout the UK.  

Police enquiries with Border Force subsequently found parcels which had been sent by Bell had been intercepted over several years. 

Examination of the parcels revealed seven contained 15 items of ivory. Following each confiscation, a seizure notice was sent to Bell at her home address. She had previously declared the items belonged to her.   

The court heard Joyce repeatedly ignored warnings over her illegal packages. 

The court was told that eBay accounts registered to Joyce and a number of family members revealed that five of the seizures were related to sales made via her online trading accounts.   

In total, she made 121 sales between 2018 and 2022 that she falsely described as bovine bone but which, on analysis, were revealed to be ivory.  

Of these, 93 sold for a total value of £6412.12 and appeared to have been re-exported without the legally required export permits.