Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Stolen Art Watch, Danger of Dane-geld !!
Gang figure 'negotiated return of medals'
Watch the video:
Controversy around return of medals
The return of priceless stolen war medals was negotiated by a leading gang figure who has since been released from jail, reports say.
Daniel Crichton was granted bail on serious drugs charges after he negotiated with the thieves who stole the 96 medals, including nine Victoria Crosses, from the Waiouru Army Museum in December, the New Zealand Herald reported today.
The paper said his release was part of the deal which saw the thieves paid some of the $300,000 reward offered from within New Zealand and overseas for the return of the medals.
Crichton was a former Black Power member linked to the feared Headhunters gang.
He was in Auckland's Mt Eden Prison on drugs charges after police charged him for his part of an alleged drugs ring.
Crichton raised the issue of the stolen medals when he appeared at a depositions hearing at Manukau District Court last month when he was represented by lawyer Chris Comeskey.
He was in jail when the medals were stolen but when asked for proof he could arrange for the medals to be returned, he arranged the return of a George Cross.
After negotiations with the Crown and police, Crichton was released on bail on January 21 in a decision the Herald said was "allied to the medals".
The other 95 medals were returned last week in good condition and undamaged.
Mr Comeskey, who apparently brokered the deal refused to comment to the paper last night, saying it was "not helpful".
The policeman leading the hunt for the thieves, Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Bensemann, also refused to comment.
Police say the return of the medals does not mean there will be immunity from prosecution.
The Herald said the return of the medals had similarities to a case last year where an accused criminal held police to ransom over the return of treasured New Zealand artefacts, including a priceless Charles Goldie artwork.
Police arranged for minor charges to be dropped against the man in exchange for the return last October of the 1920s painting Planning Revenge, a copy of the Oxford Lectern Bible and a set of seven Colin McCahon poems stolen from the University of Auckland.
The artefacts, stolen from the university library late in 2005, were valued at $207,000 but were irreplaceable.
Details of the exchange were suppressed to protect the man's identity during Auckland District Court hearing last year. Details of charges he faced were also suppressed.
As a "show of good faith" the man returned the Oxford Lectern Bible. He was not involved in the theft but said police would never find the thieves.
A $20,000 was offered for the paintings but it is not clear if the reward was paid.
Art Hostage comments:
Danger of Danegeld as predicted by Art Hostage, linked below:
Deals of this nature are done all the time, the secret is to keep your bloody mouth shut !!!
The offering of rewards in public should be universally forbidden, each case is treated on its own merit away from the spotlight.
The payment of favours or money to recover stolen art should be subject to a confidentiality clause whereby if leaked then the reward/favour is null and void.
Mr Crichton should count himself very lucky he is not re-arrested and all deals are off, especially as the medals have been recovered.
Last word to Rudyard Kipling on ransom demands:
It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
You will find it better policy to say: --
"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
And the nation that pays it is lost!"