Beds, Herts & Bucks

Henry Moore sundial theft pair jailed

Liam Hughes (left) and Jason parker
Image caption The actions of Liam Hughes (left) and Jason Parker were "utterly selfish"

Two men from Essex have been sentenced to 12 months custody for stealing a Henry Moore sculpture valued at up to £500,000 from a house in Hertfordshire.

Liam Hughes, 22, and Jason Parker, 19, both of Coltsfield, Stansted Mountfitchet, admitted stealing the sundial sculpture and a bronze plinth.

They sold the sculpture as scrap metal for £46.

Judge Marie Catterson at St Albans Crown Court described their actions in July this year as "utterly selfish".

The work, which was taken from the grounds of the Henry Moore Foundation in Much Hadham, was created by Moore in 1965 as a working model for a larger sculpture.

The distinctive bronze artwork was found after a televised appeal for information on Crimewatch.

Image caption Henry Moore's Sundial sculpture was taken from the grounds of his former home

The judge said the men stole the Sundial work of art overnight between 10 and 11 July and returned between 15 and 16 July to steal the plinth of another piece.

He said: "The value of the Sundial is put at something like half a million pounds, though the truth is that it is priceless, because it can't be replaced, should it ever be lost, and the value of the plinth for the other work of art is believed to be £100,000.

"Fortunately, these items were then recovered.

"Damage caused to the piece of art which was sitting on the plinth, and other necessary security works, is estimated at £13,000."

The men took the Sundial to a scrapyard and sold it for £46, then did the same with the plinth, receiving £182.60.

The thefts attracted publicity, and were advertised on the Crimewatch programme, and the scrap merchant notified the police.

"Fortunately, these items were then recovered."

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