War medals thief jailed 11 years

BY CLIO FRANCIS
Last updated 12:50 22/10/2009
Victoria crosses
DAVID WHITE/Sunday Star Times

STOLEN CROSSES: Thieves who broke into the Waiouru army museum stole Victoria Crosses belonging to some (top left Randolph Gordon Ridling, top middle John Gildroy Grant, bottom left Reginald Judson, middle bottom Henry John Laurant) but not all Victoria Cross holders, (top right Thomas Cooke, bottom right Percy Valentine Storkey).

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A man who stole war medals from Waiouru Army Museum has been jailed for 11 years.

The man, who has name suppression, was sentenced to six years in prison for the medals heist and sentenced to a further five years in prison for his role in a "mind-boggling" array of sophisticated fraud.

At the Auckland District Court today Judge Hubble said the man had stolen "icons of New Zealand culture and history" when he stole the 96 medals.

Those at today's sentencing included Amanda Upham - the daughter of Victoria Cross recipient Charles Upham.

The man, who carried out the robbery while he was out on bail, stood up in court to apologise for his role in the heist.

"I apologise to all the servicemen and women, past and present who have served this country."

"I did it for my own personal gain and I sincerely apologise for everything I've done," he said.

Colonel Raymond Seymour, who read a victim impact statement at today's sentencing said he was satisfied with the sentence.

"He did get up in court and openly apologise to all the victims of his crime... I'd like to hope he meant it but I think the words were hollow. He is a cruel, calculating criminal and one hopes that perhaps with this sentence he will have time to reflect on his life and perhaps turn over a new leaf."

He will not be eligible for parole for seven years.

The man is currently serving a term of two years, three months' imprisonment, due to expire in December.

Another man charged over the war medals theft is due in court next week.

- with NZPA

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