Jail for pair who stole £500,000 sculpture and sold it to scrap dealer for...£46

 

If proof were needed that the names of Liam Hughes and Jason Parker are not destined for the ranks of the  nation’s criminal masterminds, it  came when the pair turned up at a scrap metal dealer brandishing a large and unusual bronze sundial.

Hours earlier the pair had cleaved the sculpture by Henry Moore, worth up to £500,000, from its plinth in the grounds of a Hertfordshire museum dedicated to the revered British artist. They left the dealer’s premises with £46 in their pockets.

Yesterday, Hughes, 22, and Parker, 19, from near Stansted in Essex, were each jailed for a year after they admitted two counts of theft last July from the Henry Moore Foundation in Much Hadham, a sculpture park set in the grounds of the sculptor’s former home.

St Albans Crown Court heard the pair had initially claimed they found the artwork in a ditch near a Tesco store, but later confessed to the crime. The sculpture was recovered after a television appeal, along with the plinth of another work taken by the men.

The 22-inch sundial was made by Moore in 1965 as a model for a larger sculpture, which was not cast. In his will, the artist, who died in 1986, stipulated that no copy could ever be made of the work, meaning the stolen sculpture is irreplaceable and priceless.

Sentencing Parker and Hughes, Judge Marie Catterson said: “This exercise required a little bit of thought, even if the planning was not especially sophisticated. In my judgment, these actions were utterly selfish thefts. You were selling these items for a pittance, for scrap, regardless of any damage or impact your actions might have on others. You did it because you considered it easy pickings.”

The items were recovered after the scrap dealer, who also paid nearly £200 for the plinth stolen by the men, came forward after an appeal on BBC 1’s Crimewatch. He told police he had had no idea of the true value of the sundial and had intended to give it to his mother as a present.

Despite their often monumental size, the works of Henry Moore have been a favoured target of scrap-metal thieves. The foundation was targeted seven years ago when a two-tonne sculpture, Reclining Figure, was taken by three men, who used a crane to lift the work on to a lorry. It is feared the £3m piece was then melted down for scrap value.

Last month, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets announced that the cash-strapped London borough will sell a work by the artist, partly because of the threat of theft. The work, Draped Seated Woman, was sold to the council at less than market value by Moore in the 1960s so it could be publicly displayed on a post-war housing estate.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel McAdams in True Detective season 2

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Off the wall: the cast of ‘Life in Squares’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

Books And it is whizzpopping!

Arts and Entertainment
Bono throws water at the crowd while the Edge watches as they perform in the band's first concert of their new world tour in Vancouver

MusicThey're running their own restaurants

Voices
The main entrance to the BBC headquarters in London
TV & Radio
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Solved after 200 years: the mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army

    Solved after 200 years

    The mysterious deaths of 3,000 soldiers from Napoleon's army
    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise

    Robert Fisk on the Turkey conflict

    Every regional power has betrayed the Kurds so Turkish bombing is no surprise
    Investigation into wreck of unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden

    Sunken sub

    Investigation underway into wreck of an unidentified submarine found off the coast of Sweden
    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes

    Age of the selfie

    Instagram and Facebook have 'totally changed' the way people buy clothes
    Not so square: How BBC's Bloomsbury saga is sexing up the period drama

    Not so square

    How Virginia Woolf saga is sexing up the BBC period drama
    Rio Olympics 2016: The seven teenagers still carrying a torch for our Games hopes

    Still carrying the torch

    The seven teenagers given our Olympic hopes
    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis, but history suggests otherwise

    The West likes to think that 'civilisation' will defeat Isis...

    ...but history suggests otherwise
    The bald truth: How one author's thinning hair made him a Wayne Rooney sympathiser

    The bald truth

    How thinning hair made me a Wayne Rooney sympathiser
    Froome wins second Tour de France after triumphant ride into Paris with Team Sky

    Tour de France 2015

    Froome rides into Paris to win historic second Tour
    Fifteen years ago, Concorde crashed, and a dream died. Today, the desire to travel faster than the speed of sound is growing once again

    A new beginning for supersonic flight?

    Concorde's successors are in the works 15 years on from the Paris crash
    I would never quit Labour, says Liz Kendall

    I would never quit party, says Liz Kendall

    Latest on the Labour leadership contest
    Froome seals second Tour de France victory

    Never mind Pinot, it’s bubbly for Froome

    Second Tour de France victory all but sealed
    Oh really? How the 'lowest form of wit' makes people brighter and more creative

    The uses of sarcasm

    'Lowest form of wit' actually makes people brighter and more creative
    A magazine editor with no vanity, and lots of flair

    No vanity, but lots of flair

    A tribute to the magazine editor Ingrid Sischy
    Foraging: How the British rediscovered their taste for chasing after wild food

    In praise of foraging

    How the British rediscovered their taste for wild food