Five men accused of da Vinci extortion plot walk free

FIVE men who were accused of being part of a plot to extort £4.25 million for the return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece walked free from court today.

Charges against solicitor Marshall Ronald, 53, of Skelmersdale, Lancashire and private investigators Robert Graham, 57, and John Doyle, 61, both of Ormskirk, Lancashire, were found not proven at the High Court in Edinburgh.

Glasgow-based solicitors Calum Jones, 45, and David Boyce, 63, were found not guilty of trying to extort the money for the return of the Madonna Of The Yarnwinder.

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A jury at the High Court, where the trial was in its eighth week, took eight hours over two days to clear the men.

The 20 million painting was stolen by axe-wielding robbers from Drumlanrig Castle, on the Dumfries-shire estate of the Duke of Buccleuch, in August 2003.

It was seized by police in October 2007 following a swoop on a meeting at a lawyers' office in Glasgow.

The five men were not accused of the robbery.