Shock for Canterbury Crown Court staff as tarantula discovered at security
by Paul Hooper
Security staff at Canterbury Crown Court have often
had to handle potentially lethal items, such as knives,
screwdrivers and imitation firearms.
But shocked officers have seized the nastiest item yet
- a highly venomous tarantula.
The spider was the property of a man in his mid-20s who arrived
to give support to a pal appearing at the Military Road court.
He said he had just bought the Togo Starburst tarantula for
£1,700 at an exotic animals shop.
One security guard said: "We have handled many unusual
items in my time here, but this was the most weird.
"We have taken away knives and other weapons, even drugs - but a
All visitors to the court have to empty their pockets before
going through a metal scanner and then face a second scan with
a hand-held device.
The officer added: "We always ask people to place personal items
in a tray, which usually includes mobile phones, wallets,
cigarettes and lighters.
"But this man placed a glass container on one of the trays and
when I asked him what it was he told me it was a tarantula and one
bite could prove very nasty.
"I thought he was just winding me up - but when I saw it I
realised he wasn't joking."
The spider was found by a
security guard at Canterbury Crown Court
The tarantula – in its sealed container - was kept in a
locked cupboard for six hours until the man, who is believed to
come from Broadstairs, left.
The official added: "He told me he had just come from a
shop selling exotic animals and had bought the spider. He didn't
think there would be any objection if he brought it to court for
"He said that he was a collector of spiders and had a huge
collection of them in his home, which carries a warning outside
reading: 'If you don't like spiders, then don't come inside!"
The spider comes from West Africa and has a strong venom and can
inflict a painful bite.
Another security officer at the court said: "He was a very nice
guy and he told me that his mother was too frightened to come to
his house because of his exotic spider collection.
"I asked him if he had ever thought about changing his hobby -
to collecting coins or stamps!"
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