Peter Maw, 65, of Duke Street, Cheltenham, appeared at Gloucester Crown Court today to be sentenced after he had previously pleaded guilty to five counts of fraudulently evading any duty, prohibition, restriction or provision, on the ivory items.

Four of the items were related to elephant tusks, the fifth to a walrus.

He was handed a three-month prison sentence suspended for 18 months, ordered to pay £500 in court costs and a victim surcharge.

It comes after a three-year investigation began in 2017 after customs officers at Heathrow Airport intercepted a package which was declared as a gift worth £15, when in fact it was a carved ivory figure which had been sold for £147 and on its way to China.

Maw did not have the necessary permits to export or re-export outside the UK so the package was seized.

The National Wildlife Crime Unit informed Gloucestershire Constabulary who raided Maw’s home in March 2018. Items were seized and an expert later identified them as elephant and walrus ivory.

At Gloucester Crown Court today Prosecutor Ellen McAnaw said: “Maw knew full well that these items were made from ivory and that China is a country that prohibits the importation of ivory. There is evidence that the wording on his eBay posts has been carefully composed so as not to attract attention from the authorities.”

The ivory items seized by Gloucestershire Constabulary and the National Wildlife Crime Unit when they raided Peter Maw’s Cheltenham home in October 2017.

Sentencing Maw, Judge Mark Horton told him there legislation has been introduced in Europe and across the world to “restrict the sale and movement of ivory”.

He said: “You were very well aware of this as you had worked in the trade for more than 30 years during which time you amassed a good knowledge of antiques and ivory items. “In your case you operated the scheme for a three month period. You used your knowledge to help you to avoid detection in a bid not to draw attention to the packet. “This was a sophisticated operation, but at the bottom end of the sentencing options. The value of these transactions is just over £1,000. “Your mitigation is high as you are somebody who has been in the antiques trade for three decades and a man of good character. “But your flouting of the legislation would normally send you into the custody, but the circumstances in your case allow me to suspend the sentence.”