Man who sold stolen medals is spared jail

Pictured are photographs of the medals stolen from two safes in the home of Keith Whitehead in Gleadless
Pictured are photographs of the medals stolen from two safes in the home of Keith Whitehead in Gleadless
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A tyre fitter who pocketed £9,000 after flogging a prized haul of stolen war medals has escaped jail.

Sheffield man Keith Whitehead, aged 60, was left devastated when burglars made off with his late father’s collection from a safe in his Gleadless home earlier this year.

The medals included one from the Battle of Balaclava - involving the Charge of the Light Brigade - an 1882 medal from Egypt, a Queen’s South African medal and six World War Two medals.

Just before the break-in, 23-year-old Nathan Roberts went to The Chapel Jewellers, in Heeley, to trade in gold and silver items claiming he dealt in house clearance.

He also asked the owner if they dealt in war medals, said David Wain, prosecuting at Sheffield Crown Court.

Mr Whitehead and his wife Linda raised the alarm after finding their house had been raided on March 1.

The next day Roberts went to the Chapel Jewellers and sold them two medals, for which he was given £400 each.

Mr Wain said: “He returned with 10 to 15 medals on March 5 and haggled over the price before receiving £1,250. He sold more medals to them every few days and, in all, received £8,990.

“The medals were then sold on by Chapel Jewellers to another jewellers for £16,000.”

Although the majority of the medals were recovered it was said Mr Whitehead announced he intended to sell them following the ordeal.

Mr Whitehead said: “The devastation and upset this has caused has been terrible and we have been forced to get rid of my father’s medals. We can’t go through this again.”

Roberts, of Eastern Avenue, Arbourthorne admitted handling stolen goods betwen March 2 and April 3.

He has a previous conviction for robbery and four years ago was cautioned for burglary with intent to steal.

Nawaz Hussain, defending, said he was on benefits and short of money when he “stupidly took up an offer too good to turn down.”

He said the defendant was a family man and regretted his actions.

Roberts was given a two-year suspended prison sentence, ordered to pay compensation to Chapel Jewellers and given a six-month curfew.