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Friday, 15 March, 2002, 19:15 GMT
Man jailed for Nazi chalice kidnap
Chalice inscription
Hermann Goering is thought to have owned the chalice
A man who held a pet dog to ransom during a dispute over a 2m chalice which belonged to the leading Nazi Hermann Goering, has been jailed for nine months.

Derick Smith came by the solid silver foot-high treasure after it was taken from the ruins of the Gestapo founder's country home at the end of World War II by a British soldier.

Unaware of how much the chalice was worth, Smith gave it to a woman as repayment for an alleged debt of 40,000.

At a court hearing in Newcastle upon Tyne last month, he admitted kidnapping the boxer dog in an attempt to get the chalice back.

Derick Smith
Derick Smith was jailed for nine months

Smith, 51, had the chalice for 27 years and claims to have had it authenticated at the National History Museum in Berlin.

At the court hearing last month the defendant admitted the charge of blackmail.

He admitted to kidnapping and making veiled threats to harm the boxer dog.

Prosecutor Tim Gittins said the circumstances of how the dispute over the chalice's ownership ended up at Newcastle Crown Court were "somewhat bizarre".

"The item was certainly unique, it was a relic of the Nazi regime in the form of a chalice made of solid silver and standing about one foot high," he said.

The chalice bears an inscription saying, "In memory of the great time 7.3.36" and was believed to have been made for Goering to mark the German invasion of the Rhineland in 1936.

Blackmail is one of the most serious offences in the criminal calendar

Judge David Hodson

Mr Gittins said it was estimated the object would fetch up to 2m at auction.

"It is thought to be genuine," he told Judge David Hodson.

In June last year Smith handed over the chalice to the victim, who deposited it in a bank.

Smith, of Tuscan Road, Sunderland, later offered to take her boxer dog for a walk.

During that walk, Smith claimed the dog ran off but later telephoned his victim saying he wanted the chalice back and could not vouch for the dog's safety as he himself was in poor health.

The victim had recorded the threats she received over the phone and the court heard Smith had told her: "It's a terrible thing I have done, but there's no going back now.

"If I have a heart attack there's no-one here now."

The court heard an exchange was arranged but the victim's daughter had switched the chalice for a vacuum flask on police instruction and Smith was arrested and the dog safely returned.

The chalice is one foot high and made of solid silver

Osama Daneshyar, defending, said Smith, who suffers angina, had never harmed the dog and he regretted the incident.

"He did a foolish thing and he accepts that," the court was told.

Mr Daneshyar told the court Smith was receiving treatment for psychological and heart problems.

Sentencing Smith, Judge Hodson said: "You knew how close she was to the dog. You knew you owed her a substantial sum of money.

"Blackmail is one of the most serious offences in the criminal calendar.

"The only possible sentence in this case is one of imprisonment."

The court was told civil proceeding were expected to begin soon to determine the ownership of the chalice and Mr Gittins said Goering's surviving relatives could have a claim to it.

It will remain in the possession of Northumbria Police - in a bank vault - while civil proceedings are arranged.

After the hearing, Detective Sergeant Chris Sybenga said inquiries had been made to trace any of Goering's surviving relatives.

"I understand he had a daughter who is still alive," he said.

Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

12 Feb 02 | England
Dog kidnapped over Nazi chalice
21 Nov 00 | Europe
Yahoo hits back at Nazi ruling
11 Aug 00 | UK
Selling a dark past
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