13 face 'artefact theft plot' trial
Thirteen men charged with plotting to steal rhinoceros horns and antique Chinese porcelain will face trial in April next year, a court has heard.
The defendants, aged between 25 and 67, were charged with conspiracy to steal last month after a nationwide inquiry into high-value museum and auction house thefts.
It is alleged that the men, from London, Essex, Cambridgeshire, Wolverhampton and Belfast, conspired with others at various locations to steal rhino horn and other artefacts worth £1,500,000 between September 2011 and August 2012.
A judge at Birmingham Crown Court today bailed 11 of the men until a plea hearing on March 20 next year.
One of the defendants, 44-year-old Danny O'Brien, of Orchard Drive, Smithy Fen, Cottenham, near Cambridge, was remanded in custody.
He appeared in court alongside Michael Hegarty, 42, and John O'Brian, 25, both also of Orchard Drive, Smithy Fen; Ashley Dad, 34, of Crowther Road, Wolverhampton; John O'Brien, 67, of Fifth Avenue, Wolverhampton; Richard O'Brien, 29, of Dale Farm, Oak Lane, Billericay, Essex; Paul Pammen, 48, of Alton Gardens, Southend-on-Sea; Richard Sheridan, 45, of Water Lane, Smithy Fen; Donald Wong, 54, of Clapham Common South Side, Lambeth, London; Patrick Clarke, 32, of Melbourne Road, Newham, London; Alan Clarke, 36, also of Melbourne Road, Newham; and Terence McNamara, 46, of Marquis Street, Belfast.
Another defendant, 26-year-old Robert Gilbert-Smith, of no fixed address, was not required to attend the hearing.
A trial in the case, lasting around eight weeks, is expected to start on April 27.