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Tottenham teen and traveller jailed for £1.2million violin theft

PUBLISHED: 15:44 11 April 2011

Jailed: John Maughan

Jailed: John Maughan

Archant

AN IRISH traveller who stole a rare £1.2million antique violin from one of the world’s top musicians as she stopped for a coffee has been sentenced to four-and-a-half years in jail.

Career criminal John Maughan, 30, and two teenage accomplices took the 1696 Antonio Stradivarius violin from internationally acclaimed musician Min Jin Kym as she stopped for a sandwich with her boyfriend at Euston rail station.

They also made off with a Peccatte bow valued at £62,000 and a £5,000 bow made by the School of Bazin in the theft on November 29 last year.

The trio later tried to flog it to a stranger for £100 in an internet cafe in Tottenham Court Road, Blackfriars Crown Court heard.

They were arrested following an appeal for information and the release of CCTV images from the scene.

Maughan, who was living with the teenagers at an address in Tottenham when he was arrested, was sentenced on Friday (April 8) after pleading guilty to theft at an earlier hearing.

The Dublin-born crook uses 46 aliases and 26 dates of birth, and has received “every sentence the courts can give” for a staggering 123 convictions, the court heard.

A 16-year-old was sentenced to 10 months in a young offenders’ institution, and a 15-year-old will be sentenced at a later date after both pleaded guilty to theft. Both are too young to be identified.

Meanwhile, investigators continue to appeal for information to trace the 300-year-old instrument, one of only 450 left in the world, and bows.

A £15,000 reward for anyone providing information leading to their safe recovery has now been upped to £30,000 by its insurers.

Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector Andy Rose, leading the investigation, said: “I welcome the sentences handed down but suspect they will be of scant consolation to the victim, on whom this dishonest act has had a profound effect.

“The recovery and return of these extremely precious items remains the chief focus of our investigation. This case is far from closed and our enquiries are continuing.

“Although the items are extremely valuable, I want to re-emphasise that their sell-on value, in monetary terms, is low because they are unique. It would be very easy for an arts and antiques or instrument dealer to recognise them as stolen property, meaning they couldn’t be sold for anything near to their true value.

“We believe the items could still be held within the travelling community and it is also possible they will be offered for sale within the antique or musical trade, either in England or in Ireland.

“If you have any knowledge of the whereabouts of these items, or any other information, no matter now insignificant, please come forward and talk to us.”

A spokesperson for Ms Kym said she “has suffered greatly from the theft of her beloved violin on a personal level and naturally it has also affected her professionally”.

- Anyone with information should contact BTP on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 quoting reference B9/LNA of 23/12/10 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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