A BRITISH tourist suspected of stealing a rare pink diamond in Australia has been X-rayed to see whether he swallowed the £110,000 gem.
The diamond was snatched from a jewellery shop in the northern Australian city of Cairns last weekend by a thief who escaped on a bicycle.
Matthew Osborne, 29, was later arrested as he attempted to a board a flight to New Zealand from an airport in Melbourne.
Senior Sergeant Greg Giles told Australian Broadcasting Corporation police have yet to recover the cut diamond and suspected Osborne had swallowed it. X-rays have yet to reveal if he has the diamond.
Osborne will be extradited from Melbourne to Cairns today to be charged with theft, according to reports.
Keith Bird, owner of The Diamond Gallery, said police told him the man had admitted stealing the diamond and swallowed it as he prepared to board his flight out of the country.
He said Western Australia state police had the suspect’s fingerprints recorded for a traffic offence.
But Mr Bird said he doubted the diamond had been swallowed.
“If he thought he’d got away with it, why would you sit at the Melbourne airport and swallow it, and if you have to go to the loo on a flight to New Zealand? That would be a bit dangerous,” Mr Bird said.
“If he’s not going to confess where the stone is, he’s going to do some serious time,” he added.
Despite the A$200,000 (£108,000) price tag, the diamond is only 0.31 carat with a diameter of just 4.3 millimetres. It’s value is based on its exceptional colour.
Queensland Police said in a statement that the stolen diamond had still not been found and investigations were continuing.
A spokesman said: “Osborne is expected to appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court today charged with entering premises and stealing property of a value greater than A$5,000 ([£2,699].”
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of reports that a British national was arrested at Melbourne airport on Thursday.
“We have been in contact with the local authorities and offered to provide consular assistance.”
Mr Bird told the Brisbane Times that he has run the jewellery shop for 36 years and estimates that his chances of seeing the “rare as hen’s teeth” diamond again at “better than 50 per cent”.
“We had a lady in tears a few days ago because she said she’d always wanted to buy the stone,” he said. “It’s quite notorious now.” He also told reporters the jewel had been on display for nine years.