Page last updated at 13:45 GMT, Thursday, 16 April 2009 14:45 UK

Royal propeller sold on for scrap

Kenneth Halliday
The court heard that Kenneth Halliday received about 750 for the propeller

A scrap metal dealer who sold one of two propellers stolen from the Royal Yacht Britannia has been jailed for five months.

Kenneth Halliday, 50, from Dalkeith, was originally charged with the theft of two propellers from a warehouse owned by the Brittania Trust in Leith.

After an Edinburgh Sheriff Court trial he was found guilty of the reset of one between 30 April and 3 June last year.

Sentence was deferred until Thursday for background reports.

Defence agent, Chris Fehilly, admitted his client "had not done himself any favours in terms of his attitude to the preparation of the reports".

"I think it is fair to say, at its highest, he was wilfully blind as to the provenance of the propeller, " Mr Fehilly said.

"He was utterly oblivious to the illustrious history of this propeller."

Sheriff Kenneth Maciver asked Mr Fehilly: "I take it the profit he made has gone?"

The lawyer replied that the £750 Halliday had received had been spent.

It was a significant part of a major Edinburgh landmark, important in the economy, important because of tourism, important in commercial terms
Sheriff Kenneth Maciver

Sheriff Maciver told Halliday he had made a considerable amount of money for a very short period of time, just a couple of hours over an afternoon.

He said: "The scrap value of the propeller had been something like £5,000.

"Without resetters, there would be no commercial stealing.

"Resetting allows people, so minded, to get rid of the proceeds of their crime and to that extent you were an essential part of this operation, because without your vehicle the people who contacted you would have been unable to remove this huge piece of brass."

Sheriff Maciver said the propeller had been unique. "It was a significant part of a major Edinburgh landmark, important in the economy, important because of tourism, important in commercial terms.

"Anything which detracts from that is significant."

The sheriff added that the propeller had been taken to a scrap heap and reduced to small pieces and the replacement must cost "many, many thousands of pounds".

He also told Halliday, who had a previous conviction for reset, that the social work report on him "is as poor and negative a report as this court has seen".

Mr Maciver added that a custodial sentence was the only appropriate one to deter resetters and, hopefully, thieves.



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