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Friday, July 29, 2011

Stolen Art Watch, Lowry Tip Leads To Liverpool

Liverpool men charged as police seize stolen Lowry paintings

Two Merseyside men are due in court today after police netted LS Lowry paintings worth £1.7 million.

The haul of valuable paintings were discovered during a raid at two properties in Halewood and Belle Vue.

The works of art seized included the famous Tanker Entering the Tyne worth £600,00 and The Viaduct, thought to be worth £700,000.

They had been snatched during a violent raid at the home of art collector Ivan Aird's home in Cheadle, Stockport in 2007.

On Wednesday detectives from the North West Regional Crime Unit, with help from the Merseyside and Greater Manchester Police swooped on the two properties.

They also discovered three pencil drawings also taken in the robbery.

After questioning two men were charged with handling stolen goods.

Malcolm Shields, 41, from Arncliffe Road, Halewood, was due to appear at Liverpool magistrates’ court today charged with handling stolen goods and possession of Class A and B drugs with intent to supply.

Kevin Marlow, 32, of no fixed abode, was also charged with handling stolen goods and appeared at the magistrates court yesterday afternoon.

He was remanded in custody and will appear at Liverpool Crown Court on September 8.

Erin Edwards, 32, also from Arncliffe Road, Halewood, was charged over the drugs only and was due to appear alongside Shields today.

The Viaduct painting was previously owned by Star Wars actor Sir Alec Guinness.

All of the works stolen were in the private collection of Ivan Aird, who had
known LS Lowry as a boy.

During the violent knifepoint robbery Mr Aird and his wife Louise were tied up.

A total of 14 paintings and drawings were taken along with a palette and brush
set used by Lowry.

A man has already been jailed indefinitely for his part in the robbery in 2009.

Casey Miller, armed with a 10 inch knife burst into the Aird home, after Mrs
Aird answered the door holding their two-year-old daughter, Sabrina.

He threatened to kill the family while the rest of the gang searched the house
for valuable art works.

In a statement today Merseyside Police confirmed: "Detectives from the North
West Regional Organised Crime Unit, supported by officers from Merseyside
Police and Greater Manchester Police, have recovered a number of paintings,
Class B drugs and cash, as part of an investigation targeted at serious and
organised crime."

Walton pensioner who lectured kids on dangers of drugs jailed for £500k drugs operation

The day after Lowry paintings worth £2 million were recovered A PENSIONER who lectured children on the perils of getting into crime was sent to jail for helping to run a £500,000 drugs operation.

Convicted dealer Brian Barrett, 72, went straight for 13 years and would visit South Liverpool youth clubs giving talks about the dangers of getting involved with drugs.

But Barrett was yesterday jailed for six years for his involvement in a plot to supply heroin and cocaine.

The conspiracy was run by ringleader John Shields, 37, whose garage in Charnock Road, Fazakerley, was central to the operation. (Malcolm Shields 41 was arrested the day before with the £2 million Lowrys)

There officers uncovered a hydraulic press used to package controlled drugs.

Shields, of Twigden Close, Fazakerley, will be sentenced on Monday, reflecting the recovery of the £2 million Lowry's. But Judge Brian Lewis yesterday jailed six of his co-conspirators, including Barrett and others, who acted as couriers and provided safe houses.

Judge Lewis said: “The abuse of controlled drugs is the greatest social problem of our time. Young lives are permanently scarred by failing health, permanent unemployability and sometimes, tragically, early death. Families are broken, communities are blighted and drug addicts turn to anti-social behaviour and crime.”

Judge Lewis told the six men that as parents they should imagine how they would feel if their children were “led down the path of deception by some sleazy and greedy drug dealer”.

Jailing Barrett, Judge Lewis said he was “somebody who makes things happen or makes thing happen more easily. You were in a managerial capacity.” The judge said it was clear “facilitator” Barrett was involved in plots to supply drugs in Scotland and in Norfolk. On May 1, last year, Barrett, of Albany Road, Walton, was also spotted at the garage using the hydraulic press, which days later tested positive for cocaine and heroin.

David McLachlan, defending Barrett, told how he was born in Walton prison at the start of WWII and was now finding himself back there at the end of his days. He told how the pensioner had gone clean after having a son 13 years ago.

He said: “He would hold talks at youth clubs to deter them from choosing the life he did and regrettably the life he has gone back to.”

Mr McLachlan told how Barrett, who did not have a luxurious life, was involved in helping autistic youngsters.

Simon Christie, prosecuting, told how among the other conspirators former taxi driver Peter McCreith, 36, was a courier and Richard Reay, 32, delivered drugs to the north, including Preston and Carlisle.

Mark Beesley, 40, acted as a driver for Shields, who had lost his licence. David Hemmings, 34, was found to be minding £20,000 of amphetamine and 13.5kg of cannabis worth £67,000, and Kevin Keegan, 36, was found to have a £24,000 cannabis farm in his own home.

Judge Lewis jailed Beesley, of Sandpiper Close, Bolton, who admitted two counts of conspiracy to supply class A drugs and was also found with a banned CS gas canister, for four years. McCreith, of Birchfield Road, Lydiate, who pleaded guilty to conspiring to sell a class B drug, and Reay, of Cramlington, Northumberland, who admitted supplying controlled drugs, were both jailed for 16 months. Keegan, of Charlton Close, Runcorn, who admitted producing cannabis, and Hemmings, of Orlando Street, Bootle, who admitted conspiring to supply class B drugs and possessing it with intent, were both jailed for 18 months.

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