BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South North Midlands/East West/South-West London/South
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: England  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 5 July, 2002, 07:35 GMT 08:35 UK
Nazi chalice kidnap man freed
Chalice inscription
Hermann Goering is thought to have owned the chalice
A man jailed for holding a pet dog to ransom during a dispute over a 2m chalice which belonged to the leading Nazi Hermann Goering, has been freed on appeal.

Derek Smith's was jailed for nine months at Newcastle Crown Court on 15 March for an offence of blackmail.

He was freed at London's Court of Appeal on Thursday by Mr Justice Wright and Judge Ann Goddard QC, who reduced his "manifestly excessive" sentence to six weeks.

Smith, 51, of Tuscan Road, Sunderland, had admitted kidnapping the dog in an attempt to retrieve the artefact which was looted from Germany at the end of World War II.

Derick Smith
Derick Smith was freed on Thursday

The boxer dog belonged to Smith's former partner Susan Morton.

Describing Smith's offence as "mean", Mr Justice Wright said although a custodial sentence was justified, one of six weeks would be more "appropriate".

The reduction in sentence means Smith - who was released on bail when he won permission to appeal on 19 April - will not have to return to jail.

"We have come to the conclusion that in the interests of mercy and in the interest of justice it is appropriate Smith is not returned to prison," said Mr Justice Wright.

The court heard how the roots of the "bizarre" case lay in a disputed 40,000 loan Ms Morton claimed to have made to Smith in 1995 for a business venture that eventually failed.

'In memory'

Smith said Ms Morton did not give him any money - but Ms Morton said he gave her the chalice as security for his debt.

On 10 June 2001, Ms Morton received a phone call from Smith informing her he had taken her Boxer dog "Benjy".

Chalice
The chalice is made of solid silver

He said if she did not return the chalice she would not get the dog back.

Smith said in court he found the dog on a playing field and it had followed him home, and although he was using it to try and win back his property he intended it no harm.

Mr Justice Wright said there was evidence to suggest the chalice - which has been valued at a "considerable sum" - had been in Smith's possession for more than 30 years.

It is inscribed with the words, "In memory of the great time 7.3.36 Hermann Goering", and is thought to have been made to mark the invasion of the Rhineland in 1936.

Goering, who headed the Luftwaffe, was long considered Adolf Hitler's number two, but fell out of favour and committed suicide at the end of the war to avoid being hanged at Nuremberg.


Click here to go to Tyne
See also:

15 Mar 02 | England
12 Feb 02 | England
21 Nov 00 | Europe
11 Aug 00 | UK
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more England stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more England stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes