Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Johnson's Juped, Will Extra Jail time Still Be Given ????

Johnsons gang made just £76k from multi-million pound raids
Wednesday, April 28, 2010, 08:00

THE notorious Johnsons gang stole £23 million of antiques in a series of raids on stately homes – but made just £76,000 from selling them, a judge heard.

Now the five members have been warned if they don't pay up, they face longer jail terms.

Key player Daniel O'Loughlin is thought to have made legal history by arranging from his prison cell for 93 of the valuable items to be returned because he does not like being locked up.

The 34-year-old defendant told Judge Christopher Compston at Reading Crown Court: "If I had any other items I would give them back. I know what situation I am in and what use are antiques when I am in a prison cell?"

Referring to the rest of the gang, he said: "They are all in the same situation as me. We all want to get out of jail."

The extended family are facing a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act and will be jailed for longer periods than their original sentences if they cannot pay back the value of the stolen items or return the antiques themselves.

The judge heard the raiders, also including Ricky Johnson, 55, his sons Richard 'Chad' Johnson, 34, and Albi Johnson, 27, and Michael Nicholls, 31, stole at least £23 million of property from 17th century Ramsbury Manor, in Wiltshire, in 2006. They claim they made just £15,200 each selling their loot on the black market.

Ricky's nephew O'Loughlin described for the first time the details of the audacious burglary.

He told the court they stashed the wares from the empty property in a Jeep Cherokee and went back for more when they realised they had uncovered a treasure trove.

"I knew there was stuff worth taking, but I didn't know there was anything special," he said.

"I cut through a steel girder with disk cutters, drove through a couple of fields and then to the back of the house.

"There was a large window with a board underneath and I pushed that through. I climbed through and I saw a few things, grabbed them and I expected the alarm to sound, but it didn't."

The antiques were stashed in a barn before being moved to an underground bunker near Stratford-upon-Avon. The collection of silver, clocks, porcelain and china, belonging to collector Harry Hyams, were wrapped in straw and newspaper and stuffed into dustbins.

Among the items stolen, one of the biggest private collections in the world, were a Thomas Tompion clock dated 1675 and worth £240,000 and a Daniel Delander barometer worth £650,000.

The notorious family, who hail from Cheltenham, were jailed in 2008 after plaguing country homes across the South West of England for 20 years.

Ricky Johnson was sentenced to eight years, while Richard Johnson and O'Loughlin were jailed for 11 years each. Nicholls was given 10 years and Albi Johnson was jailed for nine years.

They plotted many of the high-value raids while based at a static caravan park near Evesham.

O'Loughlin's surrender of the stashed 93 items was thought to be the first time someone being pursued under the Proceeds of Crime Act has volunteered information from behind bars and returned items five years after they were stolen.

Simon Burns, prosecuting, told Judge Critchlow some of the stolen antiques were recovered from the Cleeve Prior Travellers' Site, where all five members of the gang lived. Of the 93 items, 42 were from Ramsbury, Warneford Place, in Swindon, and The Manor, in Stanton Harcourt, Oxfordshire. The gang say they cannot remember where the rest are.

An independent valuation expert had earlier valued the goods stolen from Ramsbury Manor at £6 million, with around £1 million of antiques taken from other raids.

About £3 million worth of the items have been recovered and police are now pursuing the gang for an outstanding £4 million.

Police had earlier estimated the overall value of the raids at £30 million because the owners often paid well above the market value for their items.


Art Hostage Comments:

It remains to be seen if extra jail time is still imposed by the Judge or the spectre of extra jail time is left hanging over for the next six months to allow further recoveries of stolen art and antiques ??

I wonder if the Lawyers insisted on a firm deal that would allow these items to be recovered and the prospect of extra jail time be lifted , or the defence lawyers just rolled over and allowed their clients to give the stolen art and antiques back and hope for the best from the prosecution and the judge.

Answers revealed soon.............

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