Man 'used shopping list in book thefts'

A Cambridge graduate drew up a "thief's shopping list" before stealing antique books worth £40,000 from a world famous library, a court heard today.

William Jacques, 41, of no fixed address, would use a false name to sign in to the Royal Horticultural Society's Lindley library in London, it is alleged.



He would leave after stuffing valuable volumes of Nouvelle Iconographies des Camellias by Ambroise Verschaffelt under a tweed jacket he would always wear on such visits, jurors heard.



Gino Connor, for the Crown, told Southwark Crown Court that Jacques pre-planned the theft of the rare volumes.



"We are not dealing with Penguin books, we are dealing with very valuable books," he said.



Mr Connor added that the crime was a "systematic, carefully planned theft committed by a man who knew precisely what he was doing".



Jacques, the prosecutor said, was highly intelligent, studied at Cambridge and was a member of both the British Library and the London Library.



"He had an understanding of rare and valuable books," Mr Connor added.



The defendant is alleged to have taken the books some time between June 2004 - when an audit of the books was last undertaken - and March 2007.



During that period he would regularly visit the Lindley Library in Vincent Square, central London.



It holds books, journals, pictures and art on practical gardening, garden history, plants and design dating back to 1514.



Staff started to become suspicious after noticing that Jacques would always wear the same clothes - a tweed jacket and glasses - the court heard.



Mr Connor said that on one occasion the defendant "was seen to place something inside his jacket and walk away with his left arm stiff against his jacket as if holding something".



The prosecutor added: "It was rather crude, but it was effective."



He told the jury that Jacques always signed in when visiting the library, when he had both arms free. But he never signed out, the court heard.



Staff called police to the Library on April 2, 2007, after noticing Jacques in the building, the court heard.



On being challenged by officers and staff, he is alleged to have said: "I do not know nothing about this," adding: "Do you have any evidence?".



Police found that the suspect had with him a card for London's Senate House library in the name of "Santoro", it is alleged. It is the same name he used to sign in to the Lindley Library, the prosecution claimed.



Police also found an A4 piece of paper with the names of 70 volumes of rare books, all kept at the library.



Mr Connor said the document amounted to a "thief's shopping list".



The books on the piece of paper were listed in sequential order as to where they could be found in the library.



Notes were also made as to their valuation and whether they included maps and plates - which the prosecution told jurors could be removed and sold separately.



"This tends to suggest that there was a great deal of pre-planning," Mr Connor said.



Jacques denies one count of theft relating to the 13 volumes missing from the library.



He also denies going equipped with the Senate House card to commit theft.



The trial continues.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links