Trusted nanny jailed for stealing £30,000 of antiques from Duke of Wellington's youngest son despite being treated like 'part of the family'
- Sarah Hallcup worked for aristocratic Wellesley family for four years
- Was so close to Lady Wellesley she asked her to be son's godmother
- But helped her boyfriend break in to their country house in Hampshire
- Sentenced to two years in prison for conspiracy to commit burglary
Sarah Hallcup was treated as part of the family by Lord Christopher Wellesley, 48, and his wife Emma.
They were so close that Lady Wellesley, 36, became godmother to unmarried Hallcup’s 19-month-old son.
But while the Wellesleys and their three children were on holiday, she helped her boyfriend steal heirlooms worth £30,000 from Top Hill House, the family’s £1million three-storey mansion in Heckfield, Hampshire, a court heard.
The haul taken by Hallcup, 28, and Neal Akhtar, 27, included paintings, a Cartier clock, a pair of silver pheasants worth £250 and busts of Lord Wellesley’s famous ancestor, the first Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.
The pair also ransacked the small one-bedroom annexe where Hallcup lived in an attempt to make it look like a break-in.
But detectives became suspicious when they could find no sign of a forced entry and Hallcup, who had worked for the family for four years, showed no concern about the burglary.
Akhtar was arrested after his fingerprints were found in the house.
Officers discovered pictures of the haul on his mobile phone and camera, as well as records of contact with antiques dealers about selling some of the goods.
Hallcup was arrested after admitting she and Akhtar were in a relationship.
Police discovered texts between the pair about ‘robbing the mansion’ while she had used her phone to carry out an internet search for the value of the clock.
Messages from Akhtar’s BlackBerry showed he had offered the stolen goods for sale to antiques dealers and he had also tried to sell some of the haul to his uncle.
Many of the items taken, including a Tiffany-style bracelet with the inscription ‘E love M’ belonging to Lady Wellesley, have never been recovered.
Hallcup had denied involvement in the raid in July last year but was convicted last month of conspiracy to burgle.
Jailing her for two years at Winchester Crown Court yesterday, Judge Andrew Barnett said: ‘You were a trusted nanny who became a family friend.
‘They trusted you to look after their property and it was a trust which you breached and, in effect, betrayed.
‘The effect that this burglary had upon the Wellesley family was truly devastating.’
Akhtar, from Reading, who has previous convictions for burglary, admitted conspiracy to burgle and was jailed for three years.
Scott Allaway, 27, also from Reading, who admitted driving away the haul in his van, was jailed for 18 months for handling stolen goods.
Prosecutor Kerry Maylin said the Wellesley family had been left ‘devastated’ by the burglary and the loss of treasured possessions.
‘The items were of enormous sentimental value to Lady Wellesley,’ she said. ‘She is very clearly devastated, both for herself and for her family whose home was violated.’
Anthony Harrison, for Hallcup, said that while she was not put under duress there was ‘pressure and persistence’ from Akhtar to commit the offence.
Art by Picasso, Chagall is stolen from house near BartoAntiques, arrow heads, and valuable artwork was stolen from a Berks County home Monday afternoon and police are asking the public to help them find the culprit.
Peter Battle murder: Were these coins stolen?Police investigating the murder of antiques dealer Peter Battle have released photographs of items of property which may have been stolen from his home in East Yorkshire. Mr Battle's body was found a whisker Cottage in Full Sutton on February 7th this year.
The items in question are described as Official ECU coins and are displayed in a presentation box.
Detective Chief Inspector Alistair McFarlane said:
“In order to establish if these coins were ever the property of Peter Battle, we are keen to trace anyone who may have sold similar coins to him or can identify the coins in the pictures as being the ones they sold to Mr Battle."
Anyone able to help is asked to contact Humberside Police’s incident room on 01377 208989.
Court orders freeze of Gram jewellers assets
The decision was taken by Mr Justice Lawrence Quintano at the request of the Attorney General.
Mr Tabone was last week accused of handling stolen property after he allegedly bought €350,000 worth of stolen jewellery. He denied the charges.
Piazza Antiques owner Alfred Borg had told the court that in August 2011 he received a call from the police about a theft from his shop.
On arriving, he drew up a list of what was missing and gave it to the police. The value of the missing items was more than €500,000. Nothing was ever recovered.
Glen Debattista, one of three people who had broken into Mr Borg’s shop, said that after the theft they (the thieves) had gone to a house and split everything between them.
He said that he sold his and his son’s share to the accused. He had gone to his shop in Birkirkara about four times. The items were carried in a Lidl shopping bag. He said that they had told the jeweller that the items were stolen and they were sold to him in four lots. Mr Tabone would switch off the CCTV before each visit.
During the hearing, Mr Tabone could at one point be seen sniggering to himself and shaking his head.
A ban on publication of Mr Tabone's name was lifted by Mr Justice Quintano today.
Pentagon City Rolex Theft: 23 Watches Worth $600k Stolen From Northern Virginia Tourneau Watch StoreARLINGTON, Va. — Police say four masked men entered a suburban Washington, D.C., jewelry store, shattered a glass display case with a hammer and made off with 23 Rolex watches worth more than $600,000.
Tuesday's heist at the Fashion Centre at northern Virginia's Pentagon City Mall took about 30 seconds. Police say the suspects fled in a car driven by a fifth person.
It was the second smash-and-grab crime reported by authorities at the mall in two months. On Feb. 4, four masked men walked into another jewelry store at the Fashion Centre, shattered a display case with hammers and made off with $128,000 in rings. The men fled in a car driven by a fifth person.
Police have not said if they believe the two crimes are related.
Baron's life of luxury – the English gent who ran drug empire from here
A DRUGS LORD who faces spending the rest of his life in an English jail was living an amazing double life in Ireland for years.Philip Baron once rubbed shoulders with Ireland's leading businessmen and top bankers while living a life of luxury at his mansion beside the K Club in Co Kildare.
The man who looked every inch the well-educated, well-heeled English gentleman turned out to be an international drugs trafficker.
The 57-year-old worked hand-in-hand with the so-called 'Dapper Don' Christy Kinahan – the overlord of Irish crime and the State's biggest drugs dealer.
He now faces spending the rest of his life behind bars after an English court heard yesterday he was the leader of a gang that spent 15 years importing vast amounts of drugs into the UK to fund their lavish champagne lifestyles.
He pleaded guilty to smuggling cocaine and cannabis.
From his plush base in Co Kildare, he was a kingpin in an international ring that owned yachts and sports cars as well as luxury villas in Spain, all funded by drugs money.
Senior gardai have confirmed that Baron "generally was not involved with supplying Irish gangs". But he was linked to some of our mobs, including a major cocaine crew led by a criminal based in Drimnagh who is currently a major target for the Criminal Assets Bureau.
Like Baron, this Drimnagh-based criminal – originally from Cabra – did not come on to the Garda radar for years.
Yesterday in court it emerged that while authorities in Ireland thought Baron ran a company that rented deckchairs in Spain, he was actually a key figure in the international drugs importing ring.
The gang smuggled around 52 tonnes of drugs over 15 years and laundered millions of pounds of their illegal profits.
Elizabeth Jenkins, from the Crown Prosecution Service in the UK, said of Baron: "He thought he was beyond the reach of the judicial process in this country and continued to conduct his criminal activity from abroad.
Diamond mine director admits €29m drug charge
THE director of a diamond mining company has admitted possession of €29m worth of cocaine.Gareth Hopkins (33) pleaded guilty to possession of the drug for sale or supply at Ballycoolin, west Dublin and at Beech, Leixlip, Co Kildare, on June 26, 2012.
About 400kg of cocaine were seized during a joint operation by gardai and customs officers in what was the biggest inland cocaine find ever made in Ireland.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court previously heard that Hopkins, with addresses at Carnlough Road, Cabra, and Leixlip, was director of a recycling company, a diamond mining company in Sierra Leone and had interests in a Polish tobacco company.
Gardai had claimed in the District Court that he was involved in the large-scale importation of cocaine from South America, which was shipped to Ireland hidden inside lengths of timber.
They also alleged Hopkins was responsible for the storage and distribution of the drug, as well as extracting the cocaine from the wood.
Yesterday, Judge Mary Ellen Ring remanded him in custody until sentencing in May.
Hopkins was previously refused bail after gardai argued he was a flight risk.
It is understood that he only came to the notice of gardai earlier in 2012 when they began the operation that led to the massive drugs haul.
Spain police involved in 2 large cocaine raidsMADRID (AP) - Spanish, Portuguese and British police boarded a ship loaded with nearly two tons of cocaine destined for sale in Europe and arrested nine people, the Interior Ministry said Saturday.
Specialist agents, including members of Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency, conducted a dawn raid on March 15 while the ship was in the Atlantic Ocean, some 700 miles southwest of Portugal's Cape Verde islands.
"It is the largest operation so far in 2013 in our fight against drug trafficking," said Ignacio Cosido, Spain's director general of police.
Five crew aboard, four Brazilians and one Korean, were arrested and four alleged organizers - including the suspected Venezuelan mastermind - were rounded up the next day in the northern Portuguese city of Porto.
"He is a well-known person," Cosido said of the main suspect. "He has a background in drug trafficking and is an important member of that world."
Cocaine bales hidden in a bow locker and a backpack with a large amount in U.S. dollars were seized. The cocaine arrived at the naval dockyard of the Canary Island port of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria on Saturday, Cosido said.
The gang included a large group of Venezuela-based cocaine suppliers, the ministry statement said.
Earlier Saturday Spanish authorities said they had also seized 590 kilograms (1,300 pounds) of cocaine discovered inside a sailboat moored at a private dock and arrested two Eastern European men aboard.
The suspects were identified only as a 60-year-old Bulgarian and a 30-year-old from Serbia, one of whom was armed with a loaded 9mm pistol.
The operation began when a suspicious vessel sailing in international waters was found heading toward Spain's Mediterranean coast.
Agents observed the yacht entering the Sotogrande marina in southwestern Spain without lights and tying up at a private jetty. Investigators acting under instruction from a court in San Roque also searched several houses in that city and in Marbella.
The judicial authority ordered the suspects' imprisonment. The arrest took place last week but an exact date was not given.
Florida Art Heist Reinvestigated Four Decades After 'Museum Of The Cross' Break-InSARASOTA, Fla. — On an April evening nearly 44 years ago, just days after Easter Sunday, someone slipped into a museum in Sarasota and stole 15 paintings, one portraying the resurrected Jesus and 14 depicting the Stations of the Cross.
Now, a Sarasota County Sheriff's detective is reinvestigating the decades-old disappearance of the art.
"Those paintings could be anywhere in the world," said Detective Kim McGath.
All of the paintings were done by artist, illustrator and author Ben Stahl, who died in 1987. He was well known in the 1950s and `60s for being a prolific and well-compensated illustrator for the Saturday Evening Post and for creating movie posters and book covers. "Ben Hur" and the 25th anniversary edition of "Gone With The Wind" were among the movie posters; "Madame Bovary" was one of his limited-edition book illustrations. He also one of the first professors at the Famous Artists School, a correspondence course in art once advertised on the back of matchbooks.
Stahl, who was from Chicago, wrote and illustrated "Blackbeard's Ghost," which was made into a 1968 Walt Disney film.
Commissioned to illustrate a Bible for the Catholic Press in the mid-1950s, Stahl painted the 14 Stations of the Cross. Later, he decided to paint larger versions, along with a 15th painting titled "The Resurrection," because he wanted his work to end on a positive note. All 15 paintings were 6 feet by 9 feet, and painted in oil.
In 1965, Stahl and his wife moved to Sarasota, Fla., and decided to open a museum for the large-scale paintings. Called "The Museum of the Cross," it was one of the main tourist attractions in the area at the time. He also displayed other works that he had done, some on loan from museums. Even his fellow artists were impressed.
"Those Museum of the Cross pictures are absolutely fabulous," wrote Norman Rockwell in a letter dated June 3, 1968. "The rest of us are just illustrators but you are among the masters and I am filled with admiration."
Whoever stole the paintings and other pieces of art in the predawn hours of April 16, 1969 must have known what they were doing, said McGath, because they carefully removed each of the tacks that attached the canvases to the frames.
Stahl told The Associated Press at the time that the heist was "one of the craziest art robberies of this century."
More than 50 artworks in all were stolen, including gold rosaries that Stahl and his wife had on display and had collected from their world travels.
Left behind by the burglars was "The Moment of Silent Prayer," a "miracle picture" because it also survived a fire that destroyed Chicago's convention center in 1968, Stahl said at the time.
The fact that "The Moment of Silent Prayer" and one other painting were left untouched was interesting: They were the only two paintings on loan from another museum and the only ones that were insured.
"He couldn't understand how anyone could steal from his museum, because it was like church," said his daughter, 78-year-old Gail Stahl. "I couldn't understand why he wouldn't understand why they shouldn't have been uninsured."
McGath said that no evidence points to an insurance scam or Ben Stahl's involvement. In fact, she said, he ended up in deep financial trouble following the heist.
"He put everything into that museum," McGath said. "He mortgaged his home on the museum. He lost everything."
At the time, officials said they had no clues. One officer theorized the works might be held for ransom. One witness remembered seeing a white van near the museum that night, while Stahl recalled two visitors from South America who asked odd questions in the days prior to the theft.
The trail eventually went cold, and Stahl and his family didn't think investigators were trying as hard as they could.
"It was devastating," said Regina Briskey, Ben Stahl's daughter, who was working at the museum at the time. "It was incomprehensible, because at that that time in Sarasota, there was hardly any crime."
Stahl's son, David Stahl, wrote on a website that he even contacted witnesses and possible informants around Florida, but claimed authorities didn't pay attention. David Stahl could not be reached for comment for this story.
McGath – who is also investigating the cold case of a quadruple murder in 1959 in Sarasota and its possible link to the "In Cold Blood" killers in Kansas – said she's poring over records and wants to talk to anyone who might have information about the Stahl art heist.
INTERPOL Washington is also involved. Spokeswoman Nicole Navas said this week that officials recently sent out a message to all 190 INTERPOL member countries in an attempt to renew interest in the case, which she said is one of 500 open art heist cases being investigated by the agency.
"These paintings could be anywhere," she said.
The latest investigative efforts are welcome news to Gail Stahl, an artist herself who has a gallery in Laguna Beach, Calif.
"I certainly hope that something will be accomplished," she said. "It's really quite sad that someone can go and take someone's work like that and disappear."
Oakland Museum theft suspect faces federal charge
It is believed the state case against Franklin will soon be dropped so the federal prosecution can begin.
Under federal law, a theft of major artwork from a museum is illegal.
If convicted, Franklin, who has 10 prior felony convictions, could face up to 10 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine, according to federal court documents.
In an affidavit included with the federal complaint, FBI Special Agent Beth F. Alvarez said that Franklin's DNA matches DNA recovered from the cover of an ax handle officials believe was used to break into the museum and steal the jewelry box.
The shoes that Franklin was wearing when he was arrested March 3 by Oakland police match footprints found in a muddy area outside the museum, the document states.
Also, Franklin matches the physical description of the burglar who was captured on museum surveillance video, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit says that Franklin sold the jewelry box to an unidentified business owner for $1,500 after the theft, then threatened to report the same man to police if he didn't pay Franklin $10,000.ï»¿
Police had already identified the business and its owner and recovered the jewelry box. Investigators have not publicly identified either, saying the case is still open.
Besides the Jan. 9 theft, Franklin is also suspected but has not been charged in a Nov. 12 break-in at the museum that resulted in the loss of gold nuggets and Gold Rush-era pistols.
Investigating such thefts is uncommon for the FBI and it is very rare for such a crime to be charged federally, authorities said.
The FBI does run the National Stolen Art File, a computerized index of reported stolen art and cultural properties for the use of law enforcement agencies across the world.
Declan duffy, real ira, alan ryan, Dublin gardai, INLA, Eamon Kelly, Dessie O Hare
'Whitey Bulger' digs deep into a gangster's tale
Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy offer an authoritative study of the legendary criminal and the long manhunt that culminated in Santa Monica in 2011.
In that time, he had literally reinvented himself: from a ruthless murderer and extortionist, who for more than a quarter century ruled South Boston, or Southie, to a grandfatherly figure, white-haired, bearded and nondescript.
That's true, of course, although there is more to the story, since Bulger was nothing if not contradictory. How the man who inspired Jack Nicholson's brutal mob boss Frank Costello in the Martin Scorsese film "The Departed" could simply walk away from a life of crime is an open question, but Bulger offers up a hint.
"She did what all the cops, prisons and courts couldn't," he wrote of Greig after his arrest. "Got me to live crime free for 16 years — for this they should give her a medal."
"Whitey Bulger" is a portrait of its subject in all his complexity: devoted son and brother, vicious killer, neighborhood folk hero, anti-integration activist. (In 1975, he firebombed John F. Kennedy's birthplace in Brookline, Mass., to protest Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's support for enforced school busing, spray-painting the sidewalk in front of the house with the slogan "Bus Teddy.")
It's a terrific book — comprehensive, deeply reported, invested with an understanding of place and character, and the subtle, at times pernicious, ways they interact. This is hardly surprising; the authors, Polk Award-winning Boston Globe reporters (Cullen also has a Pulitzer), have been on the Bulger trail for nearly 30 years. Their expertise infuses "Whitey Bulger" with authority, a depth and an engagement that makes it less a work of true crime than a social history.
"[I]n his own bloody way," Cullen and Murphy write, "Whitey Bulger's life was fused with the modern history of the city. During his career he became one of its most recognizable icons. Boston is the city of John Adams, John Kennedy, and Ted Williams, but there are few names better known or more deeply associated with the city than Bulger's. Certainly he is Boston's most infamous criminal."
That idea, of Boston as a city in which patrician elements are juxtaposed against a strong and rambunctious working class, resides at the heart of Cullen and Murphy's investigation. And yet, as their book reveals, such borders are more fluid than they seem.
Bulger — who moved to South Boston in 1938 when he was 8, and grew up in public housing — may have learned that "[b]eing tough meant something in all of Southie, but especially the projects," but his younger brother Bill went in a different direction, serving for many years as president of the Massachusetts State Senate and later president of the University of Massachusetts. The same was true of Bulger's partner-in-crime Steve Flemmi, whose brother Michael was a Boston cop.
Connolly, as it turns out, became a central figure in the story, Bulger's FBI minder, who "cast Whitey as an indispensible ally in the FBI's war against the Mafia." Yes, that's right, ally; throughout his years in Boston's underworld, Bulger was also an FBI informant, which allowed him a freedom, an immunity, he wouldn't otherwise have had.
This might be the most disturbing element of "Whitey Bulger," not because there ought to be honor among thieves but because it effectively removes any moral compass from the tale.
According to Cullen and Murphy, Bulger and Flemmi, despite having killed as many as 40 people, were not only protected but abetted by agents such as Connolly and his supervisor John Morris, who alerted them to threats and accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes and gifts. Connolly came from Southie and had looked up to Bulger as a child. The implication is chilling: that the bonds of neighborhood, of community, are stronger than those of ethics or legality, that in a city as insular as Boston, where you grow up trumps everything.
Such changes echo shifts in the larger city, where "[t]he ethnic neighborhoods that had been home to the most prominent of the city's organized crime groups — the Irish in Southie and Charlestown, the Italians in the North End — were gentrified throughout the 1980s and especially the 1990s." Pointedly, they add: "If people wanted to gamble, they did so legally. The bookies were gone, replaced by state lottery machines."
This is the final irony, that for all the torment Bulger caused, the state has provoked issues of its own. Cullen and Murphy make that explicit late in the book when they detail a run of wrongful death suits against the government by the families of Bulger's victims, suits that were largely set aside.
"They talk about how arrogant Whitey Bulger was, how arrogant John Connolly was, how arrogant John Morris was?" says Tommy Donahue, whose father was killed in 1982 by Bulger, acting on a tip from Connolly. "What could be more arrogant than the FBI and the Justice Department never having the decency to apologize to my family?"
Martin McGuinness 'warned by police of death threat from dissident republicans'
Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, has been warned by police of a “real and active” death threat from dissident republicans, he said.
Man Questioned Over Robert McCartney Murder
|A man has been arrested in connection with the murder of Robert McCartney in 2005.
A 51-year-old man from County Armagh is being questioned over the father-of-two's death.
McCartney, 33, was stabbed to death outside Magennis's bar, now named Rooney Drew's, in Belfast.
It was reported that IRA members had been involved following a fight although Sinn Féin dispute this.
At the time his family accused republicans of covering up what happened, and threatening witnesses. His sisters believe Sinn Féin and the IRA were involved in obstructing efforts to bring their brother's killers to justice. The IRA later expelled three members over the murder. Sinn Féin suspended seven of its members.
In 2008, Terence Davison, 51, was acquitted of the murder and two others were cleared of charges connected to the killing.