East Ham brothers jailed over £57m museum thefts
- Credit: PA
Two brothers from East Ham involved in a £57million conspiracy to steal priceless museum artefacts have been jailed.
Patrick Clarke, 34, was handed a five and a half year sentence yesterday at Birmingham Crown Court for his role in the conspiracy.
His brother Alan Clarke, 37, was jailed for the same amount of time on Monday.
Judge Murray Creed heard that the brothers, both of Melbourne Road, East Ham, were members of a 14-strong gang who targeted high-value objects in a string of museum break-ins in 2012.
Alan Clarke is believed to have headed the gang’s “disposal team” responsible for the thefts of Chinese jade and rhino horns.
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The items stolen from museums in Durham and Cambridge were valued at up to £18 million but detectives believe they might have fetched more than three times that figure on the booming Chinese auction market.
Sentencing members of the 14-strong gang, Judge Creed said on Monday: “It is a conspiracy both sophisticated, skilled and persistent, and involved significant cultural loss to the UK of museum quality artefacts and items from international collections.”
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Five men were jailed alongside Patrick Clarke yesterday.
John “Kerry” O’Brien, aged 26, of Orchard Drive, Smithy Fen, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire - but also of Rathkeale in Ireland - was said by the judge to have had a central role in the conspiracy. He was jailed for six-and-a-half years.
Terrence McNamara, of Marquis Street, Belfast, was jailed for four years.
Michael Hegarty, 43, also of Orchard Drive, Smithy Fen, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire and Rathkeale in Ireland, was jailed for six-and-a-half years.
Richard Sheridan, 47, of Water Lane, Smithy Fen, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire was sentenced to five and a half years.
Ashley Dad, 35, of Crowther Road in Wolverhampton, who did not appear at court, was jailed for five years and three months.
Six other men were sentenced on Monday alongside Alan Clarke.
Daniel “Turkey” O’Brien, 45, of Orchard Drive, Smithy Fen, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire was jailed for six years and eight months.
Donald Wong, 56, of Clapham Common South Side, London, was sentenced to five and a half years.
Daniel Flynn, 45, of Orchard Drive, Smithy Fen, Cottenham, Cambridgeshire was jailed for four years.
Paul Pammen, 49, of Alton Gardens, Southend-on-Sea was given five and a half years in jail.
John “Cash” O’Brien, 68, of Fifth Avenue, Wolverhampton was jailed for five years and three months.
Richard “Kerry” O’Brien Junior, 31, of Cambridgeshire – also of Rathkeale in the Irish Republic – was sentenced to five and a half years in prison.
Robert Gilbert-Smith, 27, of no fixed address had already admitted his part in the conspiracy and was jailed for his part in the crime last year.