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  • Jul 23, 2014
  • Updated: 11:47am

Jail for ‘inept’ British thieves who lost Chinese artefacts

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 1:02pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 February, 2013, 1:02pm

Two thieves who stole Chinese artefacts worth millions of pounds from a British museum and promptly lost them were handed lengthy jail sentences on Friday.

Lee Wildman, 36, was jailed for nine years and 33-year-old Adrian Stanton was handed an eight-year term for their raid on the Oriental Museum in Durham, northwest England, on April 5 last year.

They made off with a jade bowl and a porcelain figurine, together worth US$3.2 million, and hid them on wasteland – but Wildman could not find them when he returned two days later, Durham Crown Court heard.

Judge Christopher Prince told the pair, who are from Walsall in central England, that they had shown “crass ineptitude” in losing their haul.

The items were later recovered after a witness realised she had seen Wildman frantically searching the area.

“The financial value of artefacts such as these is perhaps the very least important factor,” said the judge.

“These items have got a historical, cultural and artistic value that is quite simply immeasurable.”

He added that Wildman and Stanton had shown no remorse during their two-day hearing.


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Armed with both admiration and knowledge of Chinese culture and politics, their rules in Hong Kong by and large were politically peaceful and economically prosper. They gave what the Chinese liked most – abstained politics but participated whole heartily in economic gain, a characteristic in Chinese culture. The last few decades of their rules; buy and sell of real estate (property for citizens and land for government) were eminently successful. They suited Chinese mentality in giving most importance to property. For the British government, it just indulged in selling land to achieve formidable revenues that no tax collections could do. Hong Kong transformed from a trading port of an English culture to at the end a land of property owners during the British rule. Perhaps, \if it were not a deep understanding of Chinese culture by the English, Hong Kong’s current economy could be more independent from real estate. Its regrettable unfortunately.
Through this story, one can affirm that the English are the greatest admirer among all foreigners of Chinese culture. There are distinguishing English institutes and scholars in possession of Chinese artifacts and knowledge respectively. Even a small English town can’t be an exception. Invaluable Chinese objects according to a judge recently were stolen from a museum by two thieves who admired the stolen goods also of their beauty. The very close familiarity of the Chinese culture began in Qing dynasty which it gained ever more understanding by being the master that ruled over a century of Hong Kong. The English through the Chinese inhabitants learned even ever more comprehensively anything that is to learn about Chinese culture and even the politics of mainland China till the last day of their over a century’s occupation of Hong Kong.


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