Fitzwilliam Museum Jade raiders jailed for 18 years
The gang who stole up to £15 million worth of Chinese artefacts from the Fitzwilliam Museum has been put behind bars for a total of more than 18 years.
Marvin Simos, of Victoria Dock, London, who was 15 at the time of the raid, was given a four-month detention and training order for breaking into the Cambridge University museum and stealing 18 irreplaceable jade works of art.
Steven Coughlan, 25, of Eleanor Street, London, Robert Smith, 24, Rosedale Stables, Swanley, Kent, and a 29-year-old from London, who cannot be named for legal reasons, were each jailed for six years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to burgle at a previous hearing.
None of the valuable art, which has been valued between £5 million and £15 million has been recovered despite worldwide police forces being alerted.
CCTV checks from the previous day (Thursday, April 12) identified Smith, Coughlan and the 29 year old carrying out a reccy at the museum, paying particular attention to the Chinese gallery which housed the stolen artefacts.
Det Chief Insp Jim McCrorie said: "Today's sentencing follows a large scale operation and a great deal of work to ensure those involved in this burglary were caught and convicted.
The court heard that the amount of compensation being sought was around £60 million to take account of interest.
Chinese antiques gang imprisoned
The four-strong gang carried out a professionally planned raid to steal the pre-selected items from Cambridge University's Fitzwilliam Museum on April 13.
They took eighteen irreplaceable "culturally significant" jade artefacts, worth an estimated total of between £5 million and £15 million. However, The court heard that the amount of compensation being sought was around £60 million to take account of interest.
The ancient items are believed to have been sold to rich private collectors and may never be seen again.
Passing sentence at Cambridge Crown Court, Mr Justice Fulford described the raid as an act of "cultural vandalism".
The judge said: "This resulted in the loss to the museum and the public at large, not only in this country but across the world, of pieces of incalculable cultural significance and many millions of pounds in monetary value."
Steven Coughlan, 25, of Gypsies Residential Site, in Eleanor Street, Bow, east London, Robert Smith, 24, of Rosedale Stables, Swanley, Kent, and a 29-year-old man from London, who cannot be named for legal reasons, will each serve six years after admitting conspiracy to burgle.
Marvin Simos, 16, of Hanameel Street, Victoria Dock, London, admitted burglary. He was sentenced to a four month detention and training order.
The haul has never been recovered and some of the items may have been damaged as the gang fled, the court heard.
David Scrase, acting director of the Fitzwilliam, said in a statement read to the court that the raid had damaged the museum's precious reputation for "guarding treasures".