British tourist charged with theft of rare pink diamond in Australia

Police suspect Brit may have swallowed it, but x-rays have proved inconclusive

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The Independent Online

A British tourist has been charged in Australia with the theft of a rare pink diamond worth $200,000 (£108,000).

The Cairns Post said Matthew Osborne appeared at Cairns Magistrates' Court accused of stealing the Argyle stone from a shop in the northern Australian city last Saturday.

Australian police searching for the missing diamond arrested Osborne at Melbourne airport as he prepared to board a flight to New Zealand. Police are said to have used DNA evidence and CCTV footage to track down the suspect.

The man was expected to be extradited from Melbourne in Victoria state and appear in a Cairns court tomorrow charged with theft, Western Australia police said.

Senior Sergeant Greg Giles told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation police have yet to recover the cut diamond. They suspect the tourist swallowed it, but X-ray results proved inconclusive.

The suspect was flown to Cairns with a police escort ahead of his court appearance and marched through the airport in handcuffs.

The diamond's owner, Keith Bird, said police told him the man had admitted stealing the diamond, and claimed to have swallowed it as he prepared to board the flight from Melbourne. But he doubted the gem was inside him.

The diamond is only 0.31 carat with a diameter of 4.3 millimetres (11/64 of an inch). The value of pink diamonds from Australia's Argyle Diamond Mine is based more on colour than size.

Additional reporting by Press Association