By Mark Mudie
BALACLAVA-CLAD burglars stole more than £75,000-worth of paintings from a Godstone mansion in a late-night raid.
Surrey Police has released pictures of the paintings, described as "distinctive", hoping that someone might have seen them and can help them trace the thieves.
Five men broke into a house in Leigh Place Lane, between 11pm on Wednesday, May 30 and 1am on Thursday, May 31 and snatched a number of paintings, all worth thousands of pounds.
Their haul included a pair of Thomas Hand paintings worth an estimated £26,000, a George White and a George Knapton picture each worth about £15,800, and a John Heins Senior worth £14,000.
Most of the stolen goods were oil on canvas paintings, including Sir Godfrey Kneller's Portrait of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough valued at £4,800, John Heins Senior's Portrait of Lydia Harvey, George Knapton's Portrait of a Boy Archer and Thomas Hand's Gypsy family Outside a Barn and Peasants and a Pig.
Who knows, Surrey Police could, and should find themselves in the same position as their American counterparts, below !!
Gang whistleblower guilty, faces six years
BARNSTABLE — The repentant, former thug who turned state's evidence on a notorious Cape crime ringleader pleaded guilty to more than 50 counts in Barnstable Superior Court yesterday.
Jason Sylvester, 29, admitted his role in dozens of break-ins, mostly from 2002 to 2004, orchestrated by George Upton, 54, who some have called the Whitey Bulger of Cape Cod.
Standing next to Judge Gary Nickerson's bench, Sylvester's eyes welled with tears. He sniffled and wiped his face with a tissue as he pleaded guilty to the long list of crimes. Though he cooperated with investigators to help bring down co-defendants, he will be sentenced to six years in the Barnstable County Correctional Facility for his part in at least three assaults.
In one assault, he was with others who beat and robbed a man at the Hyannisport Brewing Company. Sylvester told Nickerson he tried to stop accomplice Stanley Gonsalves from stomping the back of the victim's head. "I just didn't want the kid to die," Sylvester said.
In another assault, a 63-year-old man working the desk of Town 'N Country Motor Lodge in West Yarmouth was beaten with a tire iron in the head while Sylvester tried, unsuccessfully, to open a safe before taking the man's wallet.
Sylvester also admitted to his role in the beating of a man after the crew pulled him out of bed in his Cotuit home. Nickerson asked him why he participated. "George Upton ordered that we go in there and do what we did," Sylvester, thin and with closely cropped dark hair, said meekly. "It's a long, long story."
"I'm extremely ashamed of everything I've done," Sylvester said outside after court.
He is due back in Barnstable Superior Court July 9 to begin his sentence: two years each for three of the beatings and five years probation for the rest of the charges. Sylvester could be out after three years if he receives the earliest possible probation on each two-year stint. His attorney, Robert Manning Jr., called the sentence fair considering the facts in the assaults.
"It's been a long road with George Upton," said Sylvester, adding he was glad to help recover as much of the stolen property as he could.
Sylvester, whose cooperation helped solidify cases against Upton and at least four others, said he had borrowed money from Upton. He repaid the debt with dirty work.
"It was just hell on Earth" waiting for a call from Upton for the next job, Sylvester said. And whether he received probation or life in prison — a possibility for the robbery charge — he didn't care. "I'm just glad it's over with," he said. "In the end, this is what it gets you."
Sylvester is the latest and the last of Upton's young underlings to plead guilty for his role in the string of crimes, which included breaking into businesses in Barnstable, Dennis, Brewster, Chatham, Yarmouth and Harwich, stealing safes, cash registers, and luxury goods. A theft from Eden Hand Arts in East Dennis netted the crew about $800,000 in jewelry, prosecutors said. In their crime spree, Sylvester and others even smashed the window on a parked b-bus, grabbing $10,000 worth of coin boxes stored onboard.
Sylvester admitted he was concerned for his safety after cooperating with prosecutors. He'll serve his sentence in the same facility as Vincent Alberico, 25, Upton's son, who pleaded guilty and was sentenced in March to up to six years.
"We will do what is necessary to protect both," prosecutor Brian Glenny said, declining to elaborate.
Also in March, co-defendants Stanley Gonsalves and brother Joshua Gonsalves got three and four years, respectively, in state prison. Mark Fornal was sent to prison for three to five years for felony larceny, breaking and entering at night, and arson of a house.
And then there's Upton.
Known for his wit and politeness before officials, Upton is serving 13½ years in federal prison for money laundering and tax evasion, after which he'll serve seven to 10 years in a state prison for his role in the Cape break-ins. He was suspected but never charged in the 1998 disappearance of Steven Queen.
"Upton was playing a Fagin role" and would "entice these young men," Glenny said, referring to the Charles Dickens villain who had a band of children do his bidding, mainly pickpocketing.
"I'm very optimistic that he has seen the error of his ways," Glenny said of Sylvester.
View All Comments IGGY412July 03, 2007 10:08 AM
report violation I ALSO KNEW JASON AS A TEEN AND HE WAS A LOOSER THEN TO ,THE UPTONS AND PEOPLE LIKE THAT ARE JUST LAZY PIECES OF %^$$$ [full message]qnessJuly 02, 2007 06:00 PM
report violation i knew jason as a teenager, he lived on my street, he was a good kid who needed a good male role model its to bad he found upton to fill what he thought he needed...... now his life is over, just because he will always be known as a snitch. [full message]qnessJuly 02, 2007 05:49 PM
report violation ooooooooooooo please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [full message]qnessJuly 02, 2007 05:48 PM
Would you take a chance and become an informer, didn't think so !!