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Archway burglar sipped champagne as he stole £35k of military antiques

PUBLISHED: 11:51 03 December 2010

Russian Order of St Stanislaus medal

Russian Order of St Stanislaus medal

Archant

A CHAMPAGNE-swigging burglar who unwittingly swiped £35,000 worth of military antiques during an office raid has been jailed for three-and-a-half years.

James Maloney, 33, of Salisbury Walk, off Junction Road, Archway, had no idea the haul contained important 18th and 19th Century medals after cracking the safe at an IT firm.

Alan Seldon, director of ALS IT Ltd in Palmer’s Green, was also a member of and custodian for the Orders and Medals Research Society of Great Britain.

He was “devastated” by the thefts, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.

Prolific burglar Maloney was in breach of four suspended jail sentences for previous similar crimes when he targeted ALS and another firm Goodridge Industries in the same building, on September 22 this year.

Philip Jones, prosecuting, said: “Access was gained through a front communal door, then by climbing out of a window onto a balcony.

“From the first office he stole a Samsung flat screen television, a Blackberry, a claw hammer and screwdriver.

“He exited by smashing his way out of the main door and went to the first floor to ALS.

“Inside the safe was a large quantity of military medals and also a bottle of champagne, which the defendant drank most of.

“The medals were worth £32,000 and also a bronze bust which was stolen was worth £3,000.

“There were four bottles of champagne and £300 in British coins.

“A blood sample found at the scene revealed the DNA profile of Maloney.”

He was arrested at his home on October 14, where police found the missing TV and the mobile phone.

Though the medals were not in the flat “he did tell the officer he might be able to assist with their recovery”, said the barrister.

The victim maintains a research library and had been keeping the relics at his office.

“He was very disturbed and upset indeed,” said Mr Jones.

“It was the potentially permanent loss, the thought these important pieces of history would be gone forever which devastated him.”

Among the stolen medals were a Russian Order of St Stanislaus, an Imperial Service Order, and a British Empire medal for bravery during the blitz.

Around £8,000 worth of items have not been recovered.

The court heard Maloney, who has a drink problem, had been doing well on his previous supervision order until his key worker left.

Following the death of a grandparent and the news of his father’s dementia diagnosis, he turned back to booze and “slid down hill”.

The court heard Maloney realised how valuable these items were but as soon as he realised their significance “did everything he could to restore them”.

Passing sentence Judge Aidan Marron QC said his efforts meant he could give him “substantial credit” for reducing the “pain and anxiety felt by his victim”.

He added: “I was thinking of passing a sentence of five years earlier today, so you’ve done quite well”.

Maloney admitted two burglaries and four breaches of a suspended sentence.


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