A CAREER criminal who stole more than £700,000 worth of Faberge antiques and sold them to a crack dealer for just £100 was jailed for 28 months yesterday.
Richard Tobin, 45, from Glasgow, binged on two bottles of vodka before snatching the items from Christie’s Auction House in St James’s, central London, on 7 December last year.
The key was left within an open drawer in the officeDennis Kavanagh
Tobin made off with a jewelled gold Faberge clock worth £125,000 made in St Petersburg in 1899 and a silver gilt Faberge Jasmine flower worth £550,000.
He also stole a precious aquamarine necklace, Faberge animals from Russia and other items made by the court jewellers of Imperial Russia.
Prosecutor Dennis Kavanagh said: “On the 7 December there was a private function. It finished at 5pm.
“The fourth floor of that building was occupied with Russian works of art and expensive jewellery items made by Faberge.
“It is an office that is accessed via a rear staircase. The last person to leave that office left at 18:00 on the seventh, placing several high-value items in a safe in the office.
“That was locked and the key was left within an open drawer in the office.”
To the horror of staff the next day, the safe had been looted and the rare and precious artefacts had vanished.
Mr Kavanagh said: “CCTV was checked, the defendant was identified and he was seen to exit that premises at 21:25 having effected that burglary after entering at 21:00 hours. It was very much a CCTV case.
“The case is plainly out of the ordinary in terms of the extremely high value.”
Judge Andrew Goymer said: “They are obviously high-value items of a rare, if not unique nature.”
He added Tobin has a “lamentable record of dishonesty”.
Two nights earlier he broke into the offices of corporate credit asset managers Muzinich & Co, in Hanover Street, Mayfair.
There he helped himself to a Karrimor rucksack and Bose headphones worth £200.
His criminal record stretches back 25 years and includes multiple sentences for burglary of commercial premises, Southwark Crown Court heard.
Jack Talbot, for Tobin, said the Scot had been “in and out of prison and children’s homes since the age of 11” and had been abusing alcohol and drugs since his youth.
The precious jasmine flower, worth more than half a million pounds, had been returned anonymously and was waiting with the solicitors to be restored, he added.
Tobin had not known the true value of the items when he sold them to a “crack dealer” for £100 to splurge on alcohol and drugs after relapsing.
“You have got a terrible record.
“You are 45 years of age, you have been before court repeatedly for offences of burglary or commercial premises,” said Judge Goymer.
“There can of course be no doubt that these offences are so serious that there must be a sentence of imprisonment.”
Tobin, of no fixed address, admitted two counts of burglary and was jailed for 28 months.
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