14 people have been convicted for their involvement in stealing millions of pounds worth of artefacts from museums across the UK.
John Davies, Head of the Birmingham Unit of the Organised Crime Division of the Crown Prosecution Service, said:
“This large organised crime group were in pursuit of high profits and targeted museums up and down the country because of their valuable artefacts. These individuals plotted elaborate schemes to steal historical items from Britain’s museums and in some cases were successful in their attempts. The items the group were interested in were Chinese artefacts, primarily rhinoceros horn which, when powdered, is the most valuable commodity on earth.
“The group targeted museums and auction houses in locations including Durham, Norwich and Lewes. They were initially unsuccessful in their attempts but continued with their plots and eventually stole millions of pounds worth of artefacts. Among the stolen items were various Chinese jade artefacts from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge with an estimated value of between £5 - £15 million.
“This was a highly complex case as most of the individuals convicted were behind the scenes organising the entire operation, rather than physically entering the museums. We built a strong case based on evidence such as extensive telephone records. Material from the defendants’ laptops also provided evidence of websites they had accessed and search terms they had inputted online in relation to their crimes.
“The CPS Organised Crime Division worked closely with investigators to bring these individuals to justice and today’s convictions send a clear message that organised crime will not be tolerated.”
• John O’Brien (Senior) - Guilty
• Richard Sheridan - Guilty
• Chi Cheong Donald Wong - Guilty
• Ashley Dad - Guilty
• Paul Pammen - Guilty
• Alan Clarke - Guilty
• Patrick Clarke - Guilty
• Robert Gilbert Smith - Guilty
• Daniel Flynn - Guilty
• Richard O’Brien (Junior) – Guilty
• John O’Brien (Junior) – Guilty
• Michael Hegarty – Guilty
• Daniel O’Brien – Guilty
• Terence Anthony McNamara – pleaded guilty
All defendants were charged with:-
Conspiracy to Steal contrary to Section 1(1) of the Criminal Law Act 1977 and s1(1) Theft Act 1968, namely
…… between the 1st day of September 2011 and 30th August 2012 conspired together and with other persons to steal rhinoceros horns, items manufactured from rhinoceros horn, antique Chinese porcelain and other artefacts in contravention of section 1(1) of the theft Act 1968.