Pair jailed after being caught red-handed with £16,000 of stolen art

The Art Mart was broke into
The Art Mart was broke into
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Two men have been jailed after attempting to make off with £16,000 worth of art from a city gallery.

Officers investigating a suspected break-in at The Art Mart gallery in the early hours of the morning spotted two men walking away from the premises carrying paintings.

As they followed the men, two paintings were found discarded in the street and four were discovered in a van belonging to one of them.

At the city’s Sheriff Court today 27-year old George Mountford of Stevenson Drive, Edinburgh, was jailed for 12 months and his co-accused, 28-year old Gary McKenzie, a prisoner in Saughton, for nine months.

Mountford had pled guilty previously to breaking into the gallery in London Road on May 5 this year and stealing six paintings, while McKenzie admitted reset of one of them.

The paintings, five by Peter Howson and one by Cecil Crawford, were valued at almost £16,000. None had been damaged, but repairs to the front door of the property cost £165.

The premises had been secured by the gallery owner at 6pm on May 4, but at 2.43 am the following morning a member of the public phoned the police to say the front door was wide open. The men were spotted in Alva Street and then split up. McKenzie was found in Easter Road “sweating and out of breath”. Mountford was caught in Rossie Place along with his white van. Four paintings were inside, along with items including gloves, a crowbar, hammer and bolt cutters.

Sheriff Michael O’Grady QC told McKenzie he had pled guilty to a lesser charge, but he had 23 previous convictions for dishonesty and 15 for contravention of the Bail Act. He sentenced him to nine months, backdated to May 8. Jailing Mountford for 12 months, the Sheriff told him he had a “dreadful record”.