Above: Champion exhibitor Gary Cheeseman passed away a day before his 60th birthday. As the news sunk in for family members, thieves emptied his birdroom

SICK CRIMINALS HAVE stolen exhibition birds from Gary Cheeseman’s birdroom – four days after his death.

Angered friends in the hobby have rallied round to support Kent Police in their investigation after crossbills, chaffinches, mealy redpolls, goldfinches and mosaic canaries were taken from Mr Cheeseman’s birdroom and aviary in Aylesford during the evening of March 15.

Mr Cheeseman – husband to wife Janice and father to daughters Holly and Abby – lost his fight against a long-term illness on March 11.

A long-standing member of Walthamstow & Chingford CBS, Mr Cheeseman was known not only for his British birds and interest in new colour canaries, but for the volume of exhibition birds that he regularly benched at the shows.

Club secretary and friend Glenn Lewingdon told Cage & Aviary Birds: “Some thieving low-lives broke into Gary’s shed and aviary while his family are still grieving. This was not an opportunistic theft, this was planned!”

No apparent damage was carried out to the birdroom, and the thieves left behind quality equipment.

Mr Lewingdon added: “Gary was very well liked in the British bird fraternity and there are a lot of upset people at present.

“We are certain someone who knew Gary carried out this attack.”

Last September, Mr Cheeseman was forced to cut down on his stock because of his illness, but was able to retain his best show team.

His final outing exhibiting his birds was at the Staffordshire BB&MC in Chesterton on January 14, where his yellow bunting hen achieved the best-in-show title.

Bernard Williams was one of the last fanciers to congratulate Mr Cheeseman on his win.

He said: “I was lucky enough to present Gary with his last trophy for his stunning bunting hen. What a fitting way to finish in the hobby! How someone could break in and steal Gary’s last birds is despicable and unacceptable.”

Anyone who is offered for sale British birds or dimorphic canaries in suspicious circumstances is asked to email Glenn Lewingdon (Birdshed@hotmail.com), who on behalf of the Cheeseman family will liaise with Kent Police.

For more news from Cage & Aviary Birds, click here.