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SOCIAL BOOKMARKS

Accused appeals conviction for handling painting stolen from Bantry House in 2006

A MAN previously jailed for damaging a €10 million Monet painting must wait to hear the outcome of an appeal against his conviction for handling another artwork stolen from a stately home.

Andrew Shannon, aged 54, was found guilty of handling a stolen Frederick Goodall piece at his home address at Willians Way, Ongar, Clonsilla, Dublin 15 on January 31, 2014.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the Goodall desert scene oil painting dating back to 1892 was stolen from Bantry House, Seafield, in Cork, in March of 2006.

Gardaí had obtained a warrant to search Shannon’s home on an unrelated matter in 2014 and noticed various pieces of art hanging on his walls, one of which was the Goodall oil painting, valued at approximately €5,000.

He was found guilty by a jury following a two-day trial and sentenced to two years imprisonment by Judge Patricia Ryan last November.

Shannon moved to appeal his conviction on Thursday on grounds related to evidence adduced during his arrest on suspicion of stealing seventeenth-century John Speed maps from Tinakilly House in 2006.

The Court of Appeal heard that Shannon was arrested in relation to the theft of the maps from Tinakilly House, when gardaí asked him about Bantry House.

Shannon’s brother was being questioned about Bantry House in the same garda station at the same time, the court heard.

His barrister, Marc Thompson BL, submitted that the painting was found in Shannon’s house in 2014 and there was no need for information procured in 2006 to be put before the jury.

Mr Thompson said the gardaí should have formally interviewed Shannon on matters related to Bantry House as a suspect, not while he was being interviewed in relation to other matters.

He said the gardaí were very clearly and deliberately “fishing” for information in relation to Bantry House in 2006, when they put certain questions to Shannon.

It was “bad practice”, Mr Thompson submitted, that didn’t incorporate basic fairness.

Lawyers for the Director of Public Prosecutions submitted that the question was whether Shannon was reckless in knowing that the painting was stolen, when it was found in his house in 2014.

The information provided to him by the gardaí in 2006, proved he couldn’t have been reckless, they submitted.

Mr Thompson replied that the information was imparted in a manner it shouldn’t have been.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court would reserve its judgment.

Shannon has 51 previous convictions, including convictions for theft, burglary, and handling stolen property.

Many of these convictions relate to the theft of antiques and the burglarising of stately homes.

He was previously jailed for damaging the 1874 impressionist painting ‘Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat’ by Claude Monet at the National Gallery of Ireland on Clare Street on June 29, 2012.

Shannon was observed standing in front of the Monet, estimated to be worth €10m, in the gallery on the day in question.

CCTV captured him moving forward in the direction of the painting with his arm raised and striking the painting, causing a substantial tear to it.

The State’s case was that the damage was premeditated and deliberate.

Shannon, however, contended that he had fallen accidentally after suffering a coronary episode.

He was found guilty of damaging the Monet by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to six years imprisonment, with the final 18 months suspended by Judge Martin Nolan in December 2014.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that Shannon had been attending art classes in Mountjoy Prison on a regular basis.