Page last updated at 10:30 GMT, Friday, 30 April 2010 11:30 UK

Antiques gang leader's sentence increased by judge

Ramsbury Manor
The gang targeted Ramsbury Manor, in Wiltshire

A man who played a key role in a series of burglaries at stately homes across the UK has had his sentence increased.

Danny O'Loughlin, 32, who was part of a gang, will serve another 25 months as the judge believes he knows where some of the stolen goods are hidden.

Four members of the Johnson family, from Gloucestershire, and O'Loughlin -the partner of a family member, were jailed for up to 11 years in 2008.

Just over £6m of antiques were taken in 2006, half of which are still missing.

In August 2008 Richard "Chad" Johnson, 33, and Daniel O'Loughlin, 32, were both jailed for 11 years, Michael Nicholls, 29, was given 10 years, Albi Johnson, 25, was jailed for nine years and 54-year-old Ricky Johnson was jailed for eight years.

Ricky Johnson is the father of Richard and Albi, and uncle of O'Loughlin, while Nicholls was the partner of his daughter.

'Asset recovery'

They were all found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary between 8 April 2005 and 13 October 2006, following a month-long trial at Reading Crown Court.

Then, police said the gang based at a travellers' caravan park in Evesham, Worcestershire, had been operating in the south of England for 20 years.

Top row (L-R): Ricky Johnson; Albi Johnson. Bottom row (L-R): Danny O'Loughlin; Richard Johnson; Michael Nicholls.
The five men were convicted in August 2008

They would stake out targeted properties, sometimes for weeks, and raids would last just minutes, with the balaclava-clad gang escaping in stolen cars.

The raid on Ramsbury Manor, the home of property tycoon Harry Hyams near Marlborough, Wiltshire, is thought to be the most valuable domestic burglary ever committed in the UK.

Increasing O'Loughlin's sentence on Thursday, Judge Christopher Crithclow said items like a £250,000 clock and a unique barometer worth £650,000, were lost to the black market.

But he said he believed £566,000 of goods were still out there somewhere and their whereabouts were known to the gang.

He originally sentenced O'Loughlin, who he described as "probably the gang leader", to an extra 42 months, but on intervention of his defence reduced it to 25 months.

Judge Crithclow also ordered O'Loughlin to pay back £113,000 within six months.

Of the other four men, Ricky Johnson's case was dismissed as the judge felt he did not actively take part in the burglary.

The three others have to pay back less than £200 in total as it was deemed they have no assets.

But all the men will be liable for life to have any money they come into seized, to pay off the cost of the UK's biggest private burglary.

Speaking outside court Det Supt Mark Warwick, of Thames Valley Police, said: "I'm pleased that these people and similar criminals will understand that we will go after you for your assets.

"The West Midlands force and their asset-recovery team have done a stupendous job making this happen."

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