Man stole artefact from museum

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A MAN has received a conditional discharge after admitting stealing a seal matrix from a Thetford museum – and displaying it on his mantelpiece.

Ian Conybear, 27, of Ethel Colman Way, Thetford, pleaded guilty to theft at Bury St Edmunds Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday.

Conybear had taken the artefact, used to seal letters, from the Ancient House Museum on March 21 after visiting with a friend, said Lesla Small, prosecuting.

“A member of staff was alerted the artefact had been removed from an exhibition box held down with screws. The act was captured on CCTV. Officers went round to Mr Conybear’s property, a search was conducted and the item was recovered, said Miss Small.

“The piece was actually being displayed on the mantelpiece.”

In mitigation, Claire Lockwood said that Conybear didn’t know why he had taken the seal, only that he was under the influence of alcohol at the time.

Conybear told the court he had not had a drink since being arrested and the experience had been a wake-up call.

District Judge Celia Dawson handed Conybear a 12-month conditional discharge and ordered him to pay £150 compensation to the museum.

She said: “I was originally baffled by this offence. “It is a very old artefact and is not worth anything to you.

“It is just you being off your head on drink and doing something incredibly stupid.”