Friday, May 07, 2010

Stolen Art Watch, Leonardo Da Vinci Madonna, Loadsa Lawsuits !!!

Mystery of stolen Leonardo remains unsolved as last charges dropped

Mystery of stolen Leonardo remains unsolved as last charges dropped The truth about one of the most dramatic art thefts in postwar Britain may never be known after criminal proceedings in the case of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece were dropped yesterday.

Scottish prosecutors announced that they do not intend to proceed with the case against three men accused of conspiring to extort £5 million for the safe return of The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, stolen from the Duke of Buccleuch.

Only weeks earlier five men who had been facing similar charges walked free from court.

The masterpiece, worth about £20 million, was snatched from the wall of Drumlanrig Castle, the Duke of Buccleuch’s family home near Dumfries, in August 2003. No one has been charged with its theft, but two court cases, against two separate groups, had been built by prosecutors.

Last month, after a seven-week trial in the first case, three lawyers and two private detectives walked from the High Court in Edinburgh. The verdicts were seen as an embarrassment for the Crown Office, but prosecutors still had a case to pursue against three other men, which the media could not report because of legal restrictions.

Yesterday, however, the Crown Office said in a statement that it had decided it was “no longer in the public interest” to take action against Michael Brown, George Short and James Boyle. The collapse of the case means that the reporting restrictions have been lifted and the details of the charges can be given.

Mr Brown, 48, of Glasgow, Mr Short, 57, of Cumbernauld, and Mr Boyle, 67, of Paisley, had been accused of conspiring between May 25, 2004, and May 17, 2007, to extort £5 million from the duke, his son and their insurers “by menacing them ... and by putting them in a state of fear and alarm and apprehension that said painting would not be returned to them or would be damaged or destroyed if they did not pay to you a sum of money”.

Mr Brown was also facing two charges related to possession of a stun gun.

A preliminary hearing in the case had been due to call at the High Court in Glasgow on Monday. However, the Crown Office released a statement yesterday that read: “As with all cases, the Crown has a continuing duty to keep evidence and cases under review. Having considered the evidence in light of the jury’s recent decision in the previous related case, Crown Counsel have decided that it is no longer in the public interest to continue proceedings. The case will not call on Monday and so criminal proceedings are at an end.”

A spokeswoman added: “The Buccleuch family have been kept fully informed of this decision.”

The painting was recovered on October 4, 2007, when police raided the premises of the Glasgow law firm Boyds. The ninth Duke of Buccleuch, who was one of Britain’s largest landowners, had died four weeks earlier.

The raid was part of an operation that led to the arrest of five men. However, on April 21 this year, all were cleared of attempting to extort £4.25 million for the safe return of the painting.

Charges against Marshall Ronald, 53, a solicitor from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, and his clients Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 63, both private investigators from Ormskirk, Lancashire, were found not proven at the High Court in Edinburgh. Calum Jones, 45, and David Boyce, 63, both solicitors based in Glasgow, were found not guilty.

A reward had been offered for the return of the 16th-century artwork, which was on the FBI’s most wanted list of missing art treasures. The private detectives claimed outside court that they were still entitled to recompense.

The cost of the trial is not yet known, but is likely to be more than £1 million. Each of the five men had his own defence team.

Police are still looking for those who snatched the painting from the wall of Drumlanrig.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So the story now comes full circle
No more scape goats
Lets see the police do what they are empoyed for namely catch the thieves
No more wasting public money on easy targets