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Last Updated: Friday, 14 July 2006, 13:55 GMT 14:55 UK
Beatles tape seller spared jail
The Beatles
The tapes included some one-off cover versions
A man who tried to sell stolen tapes of the Beatles' recording sessions for their Let It Be album has been placed under a two-year supervision order.

Nigel Oliver, from Slough, was charged with two counts of handling stolen goods. He was found unfit to plead.

Judge Jeremy McMullen said he would have considered a sentence of four years had Oliver, 55, stood trial at Southwark Crown Court, London.

He was caught trying to sell the tapes for about 250,000 in 2003.

During the court case, original Beatles road manager Neil Aspinall told the court: "These tapes have huge commercial value."

Making the order, which involves medical supervision in mental care, Judge McMullen said Oliver had suffered from mental impairment for several years.

"It is necessary for the protection of the public that you take advantage of medication and treatment and counselling that you are getting," he said.

Undercover operation

Oliver was arrested in a forest near Windsor Park, Slough, in January 2003 during an undercover operation.

The jury was told he was the "middle man" in the set-up, organising the sale of the tapes from two unknown men in Amsterdam to two undercover police officers.

Oliver's cut was said to be about 150,000.

A police search of his home uncovered documents giving instructions for the sale.

Police also found a key to a locked suitcase which contained a stolen 1960 British passport belonging to Beatles guitarist George Harrison.

'Unknown stuff'

Mr Aspinall, who is now managing director of the Beatles' Apple company, told the court the tapes contained more than 200 one-off performances.

"They've got over 80 hours or more of sound footage on them of the Beatles recording and chatting about stuff.

"There's lots of very unknown stuff and music on there that they wouldn't have recorded in a normal session."

Mr Aspinall said the tapes were made to accompany film footage of the band which was eventually made into the 1970 film Let It Be.

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