A pair of thieves who stole a famous sculpture worth £100,000 and sold it for scrap have been sent to prison.
Darren Angus and Gavin Pentland were locked up for four months each after they admitted selling the bronze artwork to a scrap merchant for just £200.
The bungling duo took the Mother and Child statue from a former tourist attraction, but were unaware it was created by internationally renowned sculptor Laurence Broderick.
Jailing them, Sheriff Alastair Brown said: “It must have been obvious that the excuse ‘it was scrap’ is an excuse which I regard as unacceptable, and something that simply does not hold up.
“Metal has a value, even if it is scrap - that is why you took it. You were taking something that belonged to someone else. There is no excuse for stealing.
“In this case it must have been obvious that there was at least a very good chance that this item might be wanted. It wasn’t distorted or used metal.
“It was a statue. You chose to close your eyes to that fact. It must have been obvious it had a value beyond scrap metal and you chose to close your eyes to that.
“You chose to steal it and deprive the owner of whatever value it had. It is inherently likely that a piece of art, a sculpture, has value beyond the norm.”
Angus and Pentland took the statue, created by a sculptor whose works are owned by tennis stars including Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, from the abandoned Cherrybank Gardens in Perth.
The duo claimed they thought it was made from copper and had no idea it was cast from solid bronze and had been used to front nationwide advertising material for the gardens.
The life-sized statue had been commissioned by Bells Whisky but had been left behind when the gardens closed to the public and fell into disrepair in recent years.
Angus and Pentland caused over £2,000 worth of damage dragging the statue from its plinth and across the ground before loading it into their van.
At Perth Sheriff Court, they both admitted stealing the statue from Cherrybank Gardens on the outskirts of Perth on 22 November last year.
Fiscal depute John Malpass said: “This was a visitor attraction which had changed owners and become overgrown and run down. The statue was in the centre along with other ornamental statues.
“It was solid bronze and worth £96,000. It is unknown how the duo gained entry to the site. The matter came to light when the owner noticed the statue was missing.
“As a result of it being reported checks were made with scrapyards. One proprietor remembered the duo visiting and selling the statue on the basis of it being copper, rather than bronze, and getting paid £200.
“The full value of it wasn’t known. They were traced and interviewed and admitted their involvement. The statue was recovered. There had been some damage caused during its removal. It could be repaired but will cost up to £3,000.”
Solicitor David Holmes, defending, said: “The valuation was clearly outwith the understanding of the accused. They both thought they had taken something which had been abandoned.
“If they had any idea of the intrinsic value of the item they would not have sold it for £200. This item was lying on the ground and was not attached to anything. To them it was a piece of metal they could sell.”
Angus, 33, Murray Place, Stanley, and Pentland, 34, Birnam Crescent, Perth, were both jailed for four months.
Sheriff Brown added: “The gardens were well known and the theft of metal is a pervasive problem.
“It is not the intrinsic value which troubles me, it is the fact they were going out to steal what they thought was scrap metal. They go in somewhere they have no business being, and do so with a van.
“They have done it deliberately and chose to take something that plainly doesn’t belong to them and patently isn’t scrap.”
Sculptor Laurence Broderick, 77, said he had been informed the Mother and Child statue had been stolen and then discovered at a scrapyard in Perth.
He said he was pleased they had been jailed and added: “They caused a lot of damage to it.”