Friday, March 25, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Graham Harkin, Firle Place Raid, Nine Years Jailtime !!

A West Yorkshire man has been sentenced to nine years imprisonment at Carlisle Crown Court today for being involved in a series of high profile thefts from Kendal, Sussex and Shrewsbury.

Graham Geoffrey Harkin, 57, of Chestnut Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire received three sentences today following a police investigation into the theft of the ancient timepieces from Cumbria last year.

The three sentences Harkin received are: Five years for handling stolen goods at Levens Hall, Kendal Nine years for burglary in Sussex Seven years for the burglary in Shrewsbury These three sentences, totalling 21 years, are to run concurrently.

Burglar jailed for mansion raids found with £200,000 clock
A country house burglar who took porcelain worth £1 million in one raid and was found with a £200,000 clock taken in another was jailed for nine years today.

Career criminal Graham Harkin tried to claim a £25,000 reward for returning a Thomas Tompion clock stolen from Levens Hall, near Kendal, Cumbria and thought he was dealing with an agent of its real owner.

But the exchange at Birch Services on the M62 was with a police officer, and when he was arrested officers found the clock - more than 300 years old - in the boot of his BMW.

It had been stolen in September 2009 by an intruder who used a ladder to smash a window.

Detectives from Cumbria Police liaised with other forces and linked Harkin's mobile phone with other high value thefts elsewhere.

This week at Carlisle Crown Court he admitted burgling Firle Place, near Lewes, Sussex, where 18th century Sevres porcelain worth more than £1 million was stolen in a night break-in.

The country house has been in Lord Gage's family for more than 500 years and is also used as judges' lodgings when they are sitting at Lewes Crown Court.

Detectives also placed Harkin at a break-in at Longnor Hall, Shropshire, partly because of the thief's lack of sophistication.

The court heard he used the pseudonym Graham Parkin and his real postcode when he signed in during a visit to the country house, which the prosecution said was his chance to "case the joint".

Harkin's mobile phone - used in dealings over claiming the reward for the ebony clock - was traced to both Firle Place and Longnor Hall around the times of the break-ins.

He was a National Trust member and would visit country houses to look for weaknesses in security, the court heard.

Harkin, a 58-year-old grandfather, from Chestnut Walk, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, looked shaken when he was jailed for nine years.

He admitted two counts of burglary in relation to the Sussex and Shropshire break-ins and one count of handling the clock.

Judge Peter Hughes said: "That superb collection of Sevres porcelain is now lost.

"Over £1 million worth of delicate items passed down through succeeding generations now totally unaccounted for.

"A collection which is unlikely ever to be put back together again.

"Harkin, you have chosen not to say what happened to that porcelain."

Gary Swindell, also 58, of Cunliff Road, Bradford, West Yorkshire, was jailed for three years for handling porcelain stolen from Longnor Hall.

He was caught at a car boot sale selling some of the Shropshire items stolen by his associate.

Police managed to stop some porcelain - sold on eBay in good faith by genuine antiques dealers - from being sent to China.

After the sentencing, Senior Crown Prosecutor Peter Kelly, from CPS Cumbria, said: "Graham Harkin was hoping to make significant profit for himself by targeting valuable items that were on show to the public in country houses. However, he was caught out in the end by his own greed when he tried to claim the reward for one of the antiques.

"The prosecution estimates that, in only a matter of a few weeks, Graham Harkin dealt with well over £1 million worth of stolen antiques.

"Antique thefts such as these often result in items of significant historical interest being lost to public view forever and his convictions and sentence send a clear message that police and prosecutors will take these offences seriously."

CCTV footage below showing Graham Harkin staking out the grounds of Firle


Anonymous said...

I Think You Missed The Part Out Where The Police Brutally Assaulted My Dad...

Art Hostage said...

I am more than happy to hear your grievances and any complaints.

Please e-mail me at

Art Hostage

Anonymous said...

I know graham, a thief he may be but he is a very witty and friendly man.

it is very sad i bet he wasnt expecting that!

Anonymous said...

Graham Harkin has another problem.

No doubt the prosecution will go for a confiscation hearing under P.O.C.A. 2002 and because the value of the outstanding items comes to over £1 million, the benefit figure will be over £1 million.

Failure to pay this will result in default and could carry an extra 10 years in prison.

I am sure Graham Harkin is well aware of this.

However, Graham Harkin may not have control of the outstanding porcelain from Firle Place etc and it may not be in his gift to assist in the recovery.

That said, there may be grounds for appeal against length of sentence, although, given the previous convictions of Graham Harkin, an IPP sentence could have been handed out with a minimum of five years.

A similar case, that of Ricky Johnson saw Ricky Johnson get 8 years and his co defendant get 11 years, however, that case involved and organised crime gang speeding over country mansions in daring smash and grabs, rather than the Lone efforts of Graham Harkin.

Anonymous said...

the problem with these sort of career thieves is that they never seem to think of their families! once again banged up and the families have to suffer especially if he is wacked with proceeds of crime which he should be, and not forgetting the loss to the public of priceless articles that may never be seen again- shame on him and those like him, maybe the police should have given him water boarding or a whack to cough up to where the goods have gone?

Anonymous said...

i would think police would brutally assault your dad, he probably slipped over on a string of pearls out of his pocket? unlike the string of pearls he gets in prison? after being in for so long!

Anonymous said...

I know Graham and he deserves everthing he gets - I hope getting 9 years did come as a shock to him. I also hope they do go for a confiscation order and get his car that is parked outside someone elses house - no doubt registered in someone elses name? If he did get brutally assaulted then I commend the officer that did it. Society has no place for people like him!

Anonymous said...

take his car and his home!!

Anonymous said...

maybe they should haul him back in and torture him until he coughs up where the stolen stuff is? or get some one to case his gaff and do it over when his missus is out and see how the old lag likes that- oh and take his car as well and anything else of value that cant be accounted for with receipts etc.. should have given him 20 yrs never mind 10yrs the damage to national heritage that has been done. a kindly old witty bloke indeed! he's a horrible little thief who has finally met his match it will be a very long time before he goes on the rob again? he will have had new hips by then? shame on him

Anonymous said...

i think you should leave him alone, he's just an old grandad like a kindly raffles thief . his family must be so ashamed by him! he may die in prison he is quite old now? poor prison diet and no excercise makes for a poor heart still one less thief to worry about eh! keep up the good work art hostage.

Anonymous said...

Listen to all you stuck up moronic idiots moaning about teapots when peados get less jail he commited burglary not murder he wasnt a armed robber 21 years in jail is a piss take on real people with lifes who have had a family member let down by the justice system a man raped and killed my aunt and recived 8 years you all need to get a grip on reality

Anonymous said...

It shocks me that opinionated people, can be so narrow minded.
Its all well and good saying take his home etc, but do people not realise that he and many people like him have families? In this case his wife, 2 daughters and grand-daughter live in the house. Why should they lose their home and everything they own for something that they were not involed in?
Surely murderers, rapists and pedophiles deserve harsher sentencing than this?

Anonymous said...

The reason they should lose their home is because they have been benefiting from his crimes for over thirty years .his two daughters who by the way don't live at home live in lavishly furnished council properties thanks to their fathers ill gotten gains.all three are also on benfits they should be in prison with him parasites the lot of them .and lets forget the Raffles crap graham was burgling dwelling houses for 30 years causing misery for his victims before going upmarket.should have got twenty