Gang to be sentenced over stolen antiques

A table of'worldwide importance' which was a stolen antique found by police
A table of'worldwide importance' which was a stolen antique found by police
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A South Yorkshire man who was part of a gang responsible for handling stolen antiques worth £5 million is to be sentenced for his part in the plot.

Brian Eaton, aged 69, of Chapel Road, Tankersley, near Sheffield, was one of three men involved in the plot to sell on the valuables.

When police raided his home they found a hoard of antiques, including items stolen from country halls and estates in North Yorkshire and Sussex.

Among the items recovered by police was a George III Pembroke Chippendale drop leaf table, said to be of worldwide importance, and a pair of Louis XVI bleu nouveau ground vases worth almost £1 million.

Another vase seized by police was worth £180,000, Leeds Crown Court heard.

Eaton, along with accomplices Darren Webster, 45, of Burnshaw Mews, Leeds, and Carl Rutter, 46, of Silcoates Street, Wakefield, have all pleaded guilty to conspiring to handle stolen antiques and are to be sentenced next month.

Eaton and Webster admitted their roles in the conspiracy last year but Rutter only pleaded guilty on Monday.

Rutter was described in court by officers as ‘a significant conspirator’ and Webster as the ‘lead conspirator’, who both had possession of a number of the stolen antiques with a view to selling them on.

Leeds Crown Court heard that Eaton’s role was to introduce prospective buyers of the antiques to the others.

The valuables were recovered by officers from the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit in September 2011 after a year-long investigation.

Detective superintendent Steve Waite, head of regional intelligence, said: “We were immensely pleased and proud back in September 2011 to have recovered these high value antiques which were described as true pieces of British heritage.

“Monday’s plea brings this absolutely fantastic case one step closer to its conclusion.

“It’s a great result for both the officers involved and the stately homes that were affected by these thefts.”

The Regional Organised Crime Unit was set up in 2010 as a joint venture by South Yorkshire Police and neighbouring forces to deal with significant and cross-border issues.

It has seized cash and valuables worth £30 million from criminals.