COURT DIS­MISSES MAN’S AP­PEAL

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - NEWS -

A man pre­vi­ously jailed for dam­ag­ing a €10 mil­lion Monet paint­ing has lost an ap­peal against his con­vic­tion for han­dling an­other art­work stolen from a stately home.

An­drew Shan­non (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 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 sought to ap­peal his con­vic­tion on grounds re­lated to ev­i­dence ad­duced dur­ing his ar­rest on sus­pi­cion of steal­ing 17 th-cen­tury John Speed maps from Ti­nakilly House in Co Wick­low 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.

Re­ject­ing this ground of ap­peal on Fri­day, Ms Jus­tice Iso­bel Kennedy said it was clear that the gar­daí did not hold any sus­pi­cion in re­spect of An­drew Shan­non con­cern­ing the theft from Bantry House.

She said there was no sug­ges­tion put to An­drew Shan­non that he was re­spon­si­ble for the theft from Bantry House. The pur­pose of in­tro­duc­ing the ev­i­dence was to es­tab­lish that he knew the Goodall paint­ing had been stolen or was reck­less as to whether or not it had been stolen.

Ms Jus­tice Kennedy, who sat with Pres­i­dent of the Court of Ap­peal Mr Jus­tice Ge­orge Birm­ing­ham and Mr Jus­tice Pa­trick McCarthy, said the ev­i­dence was highly pro­ba­tive and ad­mis­si­ble.

The ap­peal was there­fore dis­missed. 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 €10,000,000, 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.

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