Page last updated at 17:25 GMT, Friday, 12 June 2009 18:25 UK

Sex attacker cut up war plaques

Naval war memorial, Plymouth Hoe
The memorial plaques carried the names of the city's war dead

A man who was on bail charged with three sexual assaults helped another person cut up and sell bronze plaques stolen from a war memorial in Plymouth.

Daniel Wiles, 27, of Embankment Road in the city, was jailed indefinitely for sex attacks on two teenage girls and a woman who went to their aid.

He was also jailed for 14 months handling stolen goods.

Andrew McLellan, 24 and also of Embankment Road, was jailed for a year for his part in selling the plaques.

He also received a 12-month jail term for two assaults in a pub in Taunton, Somerset.

Wiles was told he must serve a minimum of four years for the sex attacks - which he pleaded guilty to - on two 14-year-old joggers and a cyclist, aged 28, who attempted to intervene.

Robert Linford, prosecuting, said the girls were pushed into bushes in Tothill Park, Plymouth, and were threatened with a knife.

Wiles and McLellan admitted cutting up stolen bronze war memorial plaques and selling them for scrap for just £392.

The removal of four plaques from the naval war memorial on Plymouth Hoe in June last year caused outrage and no-one has been charged with the theft.

McLellan says he is not worthy to lace the boots of the men whose names were on that plaque
Patrick Mason

The first of the plaques, listing the names of Royal Marines who died during World War II, was stolen from the naval war memorial on Plymouth Hoe just hours after a Veterans' Day event on 29 June.

Veterans and families of serving personnel condemned the theft of the plaques.

Judge Francis Gilbert, QC, described the offences as "disgraceful and wrong".

He said Wiles and McLellan had cut up and disfigured the plaques in an attempt to disguise what they were.

"In this city, with its strong military links and with Royal Marines based in and just outside the city and at Taunton where McLellan lived, and with Royal Marines from those bases serving in Afghanistan and placing their lives at risk for the freedom of all of us, what you did was particularly disgraceful," Judge Gilbert said.

"But I have to keep a sense of proportion and not allow emotion to determine sentence."

Plaque in four pieces
One plaque had been cut into four pieces and defaced

Mr Linford said that within hours of the first theft, Wiles hired an angle grinder to cut it up.

He folded the four pieces so the names were hidden and then sold them to a scrap dealer for £172.

Mr Linford said another three plaques were stolen the next night and later sold for £220 to a scrap dealer in Minehead.

Both scrap yards recognised they were plaques when they examined them and alerted the police.

Patrick Mason, defending McLellan, said his client was "disgusted with himself" for handling the plaques.

He said: "Relatives in his family have served in the forces and he says he is not worthy to lace the boots of the men whose names were on that plaque."

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