London

'Tome Raider' jailed over rare book thefts in London

  • 20 July 2010
  • From the section London
William Jacques
William Jacques drew up a list of rare books to steal, the judge said

A man dubbed the "Tome Raider" after he stole rare books valued at £1m has been sent back to jail for taking 13 antique volumes from a London library.

William Jacques, 41, was found guilty of removing the works from the Lindley Library at the Royal Horticultural Society between 2004 and 2007.

Prosecutors told Southwark Crown Court he stole in a "systemic" manner.

Jacques was jailed for three-and-a-half years. He was previously jailed in 2002 for stealing 500 rare books worth £1m.

It was the earlier spate of thefts that led to police dubbing him the "Tome Raider".

Jacques studied at Cambridge University and was a member of both the British Library and the London Library.

The court heard in the latest spate of thefts he used a false name to sign into the library before stuffing valuable books under his jacket and fleeing.

Staff became suspicious about his frequent visits to the building when they noticed he wore the same tweed jacket each time, the court was told.

And although Jacques would sign himself in, when he had both arms free, he would never register his departure, it was claimed.

The judge, Michael Holland QC, said Jacques prepared a list of books "that were worth stealing" and intended to make as much money as possible from reselling them.

He took 13 rare volumes of Nouvelle Iconographies des Camellias by the 19th Century Belgian author Ambroise Verschaffelt.

They were part of a collection at the library which dated back nearly 500 years, and included books, pictures and art on subjects such as practical gardening, plants and design.

After the 2002 trial, Jacques was jailed for four years for 21 different counts of theft.

He took 500 books, including first editions dating back hundreds of years, from Cambridge University Library, the London Library and the British Library.

Many of these were then sold on through auction houses.

"The effect of your criminality was to undermine and destroy parts of the cultural heritage that's contained within these libraries," Mr Holland told Jacques.

"You have absolutely no intention of turning away from what seems to you to be an extremely lucrative and easy crime"

Julia Smart, in mitigation, conceded Jacques had shown no remorse.

But she said he had lost his livelihood and reputation following his earlier conviction and relied on the goodwill of friends to survive.

Jacques faces confiscation proceedings next January, which will try to obtain the books he stole from the Lindley Library.

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