By Nigel Freedman
A crook who was caught with antiques from a violent country house robbery has been jailed for five years.
Phillip Capewell, 64, was arrested by armed police waiting for antiques from the raid at Aldsworth House, near Chichester, to be delivered to his home. They were tipped of (by Bernard Lyons) that Wolfgang Schmeltz and Christopher Doughty were on their way from Southampton to Capewell's flat at Warnham Court in Grand avenue, Hove.
All three men were forced to the ground at gunpoint as police seized part of the £382,000 Aldsworth House haul.
It included silver, medals, swords and guns awarded to five generations of retired Major Tom Williams' family since 1790.
Mr Williams, 73, and his wife Sarah, 68, were tied up after three men burst into their home on June 4th, 2006.
Mr Williams tried to fight back but was coshed with a truncheon and kicked and punched by two of the raiders.
The terrified couple were bound with gaffer tape and blindfolded as the robbers spent six hours ransacking their home.
During the ordeal one of the robbers threatened to pull Mr Williams' fingernails out with pliers if he did not tell them where to find the keys to the safe.
Mrs Williams described how the raiders burst into their home as they watched television.
She said: "I screamed rather pointlessly but it was terrifying."
Mrs Williams said one robber held her back while the others went to the drawing room where Mr Williams was half-asleep.
She said: "By the time I got there they were attacking my husband.
"One had a truncheon which he hit Tom with. The other was kicking him in the ribs."
The robbers eventually found the main safe and demanded the keys for it but the couple tried to stall them.
Schmeltz and Doughty made two trips from Southampton to Hove over the next four days to sell part of the haul to Capewell.
They face a retrial after a jury failed to reach verdicts on charges they staged the robbery at Aldsworth House.
Both men denied robbery but admitted one charge of handling stolen antiques from Aldsworth House.
Schmeltz claimed a man he refused to name had brought them to his home in Southampton.
Doughty claimed he was with Schmeltz because the German-born lorry driver owed him 32,000 for jewellery he had sold him.
After they were arrested police found an Aladdin's cave of stolen antiques in Capewell's garage at Warnham Court as well as a lock-up he rented in Suffolk.
The goods were taken in a series of raids across Sussex, Surrey, Kent and Essex, the jury at Hove Crown Court was told during a ten week trial.
Capewell was found guilty of handing antiques stolen from four of the raids but was cleared of handling charges on three more burglaries.
Capewell has previous convictions for handling and for stealing antiques from a walk-in theft at the home of an elderly victim for which he was jailed for two years in 1987.
Judge Guy Anthony told Capewell: "You are a thoroughly dishonest person who is prepared to act as an outlet for stolen antiques of high value."
"You are the sort of person who gives many antiques dealers a bad name."
"You are a professional handler of stolen goods willing to make yourself available to other criminals handling the proceeds of burglaries."
Judge Anthony said he was prepared to accept Capewell did not know antiques from Aldsworth House were the result of a violent robbery.
Richard Cherrill, defending, said Capewell had to accept the jury's verdict but still protested his innocence.
Mr and Mrs Williams were in court to see Capewell sentenced.
Mr Williams said "As there is a retrial to be held it would not be appropriate to comment at the moment."
Detective Sergeant Paul Sellings of Sussex Police Major crime branch, welcomed the sentence.
He said: "Phillip Capewell is a sophisticated, professional handler of stolen property.
"Within hours of recieving stolen property from Aldsworth House he had dispersed it throughout the South of England.
"Without such people thieves would be unable to realise the profits of their crimes.
"The sentence handed down today sends a clear message that men like Capewell will be treated seriously by the courts."
Brighton and Hove Antiques Mafia having a drink
Brace yourself for what Art Hostage has discovered, collating now.
First of all, Police did not get tipped off Schmeltz and Doughty were on their way from Southampton to deliver the stolen Aldsworth House antiques to Phillip Capewell, Police were tipped off Capewell was going to receive the stolen Aldsworth House antiques from Schmeltz and Doughty.
This is important because it shows the Police informant came from Brighton, connected to Capewell, rather than from Southampton, connected to Schmeltz and Doughty.