A former school biology teacher was caught with an illegal taxidermy collection after a house buyer saw images on the website Zoopla, a court heard.

But after being fined £56 on each of four charges, and ordered to pay £650 costs, 57-year-old Susan Tate, of Bryn Rhedyn, Newborough, in Anglesey, whose parents were police officers, said she was “devastated” at being prosecuted and the police handling of the case.

“I think they could have dealt with it differently. I don’t even think they needed a search warrant. They could have knocked on the door and I would have let them in. I am from a police family,” she declared outside Caernarfon magistrates’ court. “The rural crime team use of a Twitter account to tell the whole world you are guilty before you even have an interview is terrible.”

Tate admitted that in February she possessed a dead Scottish wild cat, a porpoise skull, a large blue butterfly and a European red squirrel. A deprivation order was made.

Prosecutor Sarah Marsh said police were alerted to images of wildlife items including skulls and stuffed animals when her property was advertised on the website Zoopla.

In February, police with a BBC crew filming Crimewatch Roadshow, went to Tate’s home. Out of items seized, four required a licence.

The prosecutor said a caution for Tate, a mum who had no previous convictions, had been suggested at first. But the case was reviewed further by the police and they decided not to issue one because of “multiple” offences.

Adrian Roberts, defending, said police had searched the property because they believed a stuffed wolf was there. Tate had found her road blocked by police and the BBC crew.

He said :”The porpoise skull she found on a beach in Dorset some years ago. She didn’t know it was illegal to own it.

“She had no idea when she received three packages of butterflies, one was illegal. The red squirrel she paid £40 for on eBay.”

Mr Roberts said she had been “blissfully ignorant” of any wrongdoing but had since discovered the dead squirrel may have come from a French market stall. The displayed wild cat was inherited from her late mother.

The lawyer said she had been astonished to find herself in trouble. She had been accused in front of the BBC and embarrassed on social media on the day of the search warrant. “It’s a very rare case,” he added. “This shouldn’t have been prosecuted. It could have been dealt with by way of a caution. This has been a dreadful experience for her and her husband. The pressure has been enormous.”

The prosecution, however, said she had denied the offences until the day before the court hearing.

Rob Taylor, manager of the North Wales police rural crime team, said after the case :”We hope this case will raise awareness to other members of the public of the risks of purchasing or collecting such items from auction sites and the possible consequences.”

Tate said :”I haven’t been a teacher for 20 years. I didn’t know I couldn’t have them. The cat I had since before 2006 and displayed on the wall in my lounge. I didn’t even know it was a Scottish wild cat.”

She added about the investigation and case :”It’s been a nightmare. It’s absolutely traumatising.”