An antiques dealer jailed for involvement in the disappearance of a Second World War Enigma encoding machine was released, still protesting his innocence, having served three months of his 10-month sentence.
Dennis Yates, 58, of Sandiacre, Derbyshire, was sentenced at Aylesbury Crown Court in October for handling the Abwehr Enigma G312 machine, stolen from Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire.
He stepped out of Spring Hill Prison, Buckinghamshire, and said: "I honestly intended to return the Enigma and I got locked up because of the deviousness of the police.
"I am a wronged man. I had to plead guilty to handling because technically I was guilty. But I only ever handled the machine with the intention that I would return it to Bletchley Park. That I attempted to do under the promise of immunity from prosecution which all the newspapers printed. And the moment I appear and attempt to return the machine I am arrested and thrown into clankers, as they say."
The £100,000 Enigma, which encrypted top-secret codes between Nazi armed forces, was stolen from a display case during a public day at the former home of Britain's wartime code-breakers – known as Station X – in April 2000. Breaking the codes provided information vital to eventual victory.
Detective Superintendent Simon Chesterman, who is leading the inquiry into the theft of the machine, said yesterday: "We are hoping for developments in the next few months. The release of Dennis Yates is a matter for the Prison Service and other agencies and not the police. We can confirm that his release is in no way connected to [the] investigation. We are continuing to follow a number of lines of inquiry."
Judge Daniel Rodwell QC had told Yates at his trial: "You have admitted that you knew this machine was very valuable and that it was dishonest of you to receive it. This was a premeditated dishonesty and one that went on for a long period."
Yates had admitted receiving the rare machine but has always denied knowledge of the theft.