Judge slams thief who attempted to steal rhino head from Norwich Castle Museum
A man was jailed for 18 months yesterday for his part in a botched raid on the Castle Museum.Patrick Kiely, 29, who is serving a six-year sentence for raiding up to £15m worth of jade from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, attempted to take the rhino head from the Norwich museum on February 20 this year.
But the plot was foiled by alert staff who forced the gang, clad in balaclavas, to drop the head, worth up to £500,000, as they fled.
The four men escaped in a dark saloon car which was spotted near Argyle Street off Rouen Road.
But police later caught one of the culprits - Nihad Mahmod - after they found his finger prints on fake number plates which he tore off the car and left at the side of the road.
Prosecutor Peter Gair told the court the gang of four smashed the glass case as they attempted to steal the artefact.
Mahmod, 21, was jailed for two-and-a-half-years in July, while two other men arrested over the attempted theft have been released.
Sentencing Kiely at Norwich Crown Court, Recorder of Norwich, judge Peter Jacobs told him he had targeted part of our heritage.
He said: “To steal from museums shows a complete contempt.
“You take something away from us all. You diminish us all when you steal in this way.”
Rebecca Hill, mitigating, said Kiely, who admitted the attempted theft, had been forced into taking part in the raid by men threatening his family.
And after the failure of the raid, she said he was then forced to take part in the Fitzwilliam raid on April 13.
But Judge Jacobs dismissed the mitigation as “twaddle”. “If you think I am going to buy that sort of twaddle, you are talking to the wrong man,” he said.
Kiely of Eleanor Street, Bow, was identified from the castle’s CCTV by Metropolitan Police officers.
The 18-month sentence will be served on top of the six years for the Fitzwilliam theft.
The museum has since replaced the rhino horn on the Victorian specimen with a replica.
Rhino horns are prized in China for their supposed aphrodisiac qualities.
Lord Nelson artefacts worth £36,000 were also stolen from the museum in February.
Fitzwilliam Museum burglar gets more time behind bars for rhino raidOne of the Fitzwilliam Museum raiders has been ordered to serve another 18 months after admitting a botched attempt to steal a rhino head worth up to £500,000.
Patrick Kiely, 29, was jailed for six years in September for his role in the theft of Chinese jade treasures worth up to £15 million from the Cambridge attraction, but could not be named in the aftermath of the sentencing because of the pending proceedings.
Today, at Norwich Crown Court, he admitted attempted theft of a rhino head from the city’s Castle Museum.
The court heard Kiely had been forced to take part in the raid and, because it failed, was again forced to take part in the Fitzwilliam burglary.
Judge Peter Jacobs ordered that another year-and-a-half should be added to the jail term that Kiely, of Bow, east London, will serve.
Peter Gair, prosecuting, said Kiely had been one of a gang of four who smashed a glass case as they attempted to steal the rhino head on February 20.
Mr Gair added: “As they attempted to escape with the head, staff and visitors stood firm and would not let them leave. They dropped the head, partially damaging it, and escaped.”
A driver was waiting outside in a stolen car to help them make their getaway.
Judge Jacobs said the rhino head was late Victorian and worth between £300,000 and £500,000.
The judge said: “So far, only you and one other have been caught. If you were to come forward with a name in the next 28 days, your sentenced could be reduced.”
Nihad Mahmod, 19, of no fixed address, was last month jailed for two-and-a-half years for his involvement in the Norfolk attack after admitting attempted theft.
In the Fitzwilliam raid, Kiely was joined by Steven Coughlan, 25, of Eleanor Street, London, Robert Smith, 24, of Swanley, Kent, and Marvin Simos, of Victoria Dock, London, who was 15 at the time.
Coughlan and Smith were also jailed for six years, while Simos got a four-month detention and training order.
Eighteen irreplaceable items were taken and none has been recovered yet, despite worldwide police forces being alerted. The raid happened on April 13.
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Kiely’s barrister, Alexander Taylor-Camara, told Cambridge Crown Court at the time that he had been pressurised into taking part and was not a "professional burglar".
He added: "Others were involved in this and he is not somebody with a treasure trove stashed away for future use."
Kiely was given a further 18-month jail sentence on Monday after he admitted attempting to steal the rhino head from Norwich Castle Museum on February 20.
Prosecutor Peter Gair told the court he was one of a gang of four who smashed a glass case to gain access to the Victorian artefact, which was deliberately targeted because of the high value of rhino horns.
He said: "As they attempted to escape with the head, staff and visitors stood firm and would not let them leave. They dropped the head, partially damaging it, and escaped."
Nihad Mahmod, 19, of no fixed address, was jailed for two-and-a-half years in July for his involvement in the raid after admitting attempted theft.
The museum has since replaced the valuable double rhino horn with a replica. On the black market, rhino horn can sell for as much as £50,000 per kilo.
Another two men were arrested and bailed over the botched theft but police later told them they would face no further action, meaning that at least two people who were involved in the raid are still at large.
All four people involved in the Fitzwilliam Museum burglary on April 13 have been convicted and sentenced.
Steven Coughlan, 25, of Bow, east London, and Robert Smith, 24, of Swanley, Kent, were jailed for six years each, while a 16-year-old boy from east London received a four-month detention and training order.
Passing sentence, Mr Justice Fulford said that the “rare and beautiful” jade objects stolen would almost certainly go to one or more private collectors.
“Save for the individuals or individual who commissioned this raid, they are effectively lost forever,” he added.
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