A resident from Oakhill Road, Putney Dr Sian Lim has been jailed for smuggling more than 100 "priceless" orchids -the world's most desired flower -into Britain. Including six plants that are so rare they are they are on the brink of extinction and can only be found on the slopes of Mount
Kinabalu on the island of Borneo.
Dr Lim was caught at Heathrow having flown in from his native home of Malaysia - he had admited 13 charges of smuggling but claims that they are for his personal collection in his two greenhouses in Putney and not for commercial use. However Judge Richard McGregor Johnson jailed him for four months.
The Judge told Lim: "I am satisfied you did bring in these orchids with a view to commercial gain. It is essential that the courts make it plain that such behaviour for gain will not be tolerated in order to discourage other who might be tempted to follow in your footsteps."
The plants were taken to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where orchid expert Dr David Roberts identified them. Some were so rare even the specialist team at Kew had never seen them. The illegal trade, dubbed 'orchidelirium', threatens to destroy some species
entirely. Thousands of pounds can be exchanged for each of the flowers admired
for their sensuous shape and heady scent.
Left; P. (Paphiopedilum) rothschildianum - one of the very rare orchids that Dr Lim was caught smuggling - named after eminent Victorian orchid grower Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild
Dr Roberts confirmed;
"The plants now belong to Customs. If and when they are handed over to Kew we will be in touch with the likely countries of origin to determine the future of the plants."
October 19, 2005