Yorkshire gang admits handling £5m of stolen antiques

Gang Darren Webster, Brian Eaton and Carl Rutter are awaiting sentencing

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Three men have pleaded guilty to handling £5m of antiques stolen from country homes.

Carl Rutter 46, of Silcoates Street, Wakefield, appeared in Leeds Crown Court on a charge of conspiracy to handle stolen goods.

Darren Webster, 45, of Burnshaw Mews, Leeds, and Brian Eaton, 69, of Chapel Road, Tankersley, pleaded guilty to the same offence at a hearing in August.

All three men were remanded in custody and will be sentenced next month.

According to the Yorkshire and Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit (ROCU), the valuables, reported stolen from country halls and estates in North Yorkshire and Sussex, included a pair of Louis XVI vases valued at almost £1m and a Chippendale table worth £500,000.

'Historic items'

Officers from ROCU claimed Webster was the "lead conspirator" while Eaton was responsible for introducing prospective buyers of the antiques to Webster and Rutter.

The antiques, described by ROCU as being of "significant and cultural historic value", were recovered by officers in September 2011 after a year-long investigation.

Vases The stolen items included a pair of Louis XVI vases valued at almost £1m

The antiques were stolen from Newby Hall and Sion Hill in North Yorkshire and Firle Place in Sussex between 2007 and 2009.

A crime unit spokesman said 14 stolen items recovered from Eaton and Webster's homes had been returned to their owners.

Det Supt 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.

"Today'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."

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