The Old Bailey heard yesterday that the money, outdated 1,000-Deutschmark bills, was decomposed by mould by the time that Diete Zlof had completed a 15-year prison sentence in Germany.
Zlof, who was jailed for another two years in Britain yesterday for handling proceeds of the ransom, was trailed after his release by the German authorities. They were determined to track down the pounds 7m that he was paid by the family of Richard Oetker, whom he kidnapped in 1976. Mr Oetker, then 25, was near to death when he was found. He had been tortured with electric shocks.
Zlof made arrangements to smuggle the notes, hidden in hollowed-out books inside a crate, to a depot in Northampton. In May 1997 he drove to the depot, picked up the crate and then checked into a hotel in London, where he was arrested.