Heirlooms stolen in the £150,000 raid on Newcastle’s historic Mansion House have never been recovered, a court heard yesterday.
Brian Hindmarch was part of a professional gang which targeted irreplaceable high-value items at the Lord Mayor’s official residence in Jesmond.
Among the treasures stolen was a Nobel Peace Prize, a lock of Lord Collingwood’s hair, cups marking peace with Germany after the First World War and a snuff box from 1897.
None of the precious stolen items was returned and it is thought they may have been smuggled out of the country soon after they were stolen in the burglary.
Hindmarch was the only member of the gang to be caught after cutting himself and leaving a trail of blood.
A few days earlier the thief also ransacked the home of a vulnerable pensioner, stealing goods worth more than £50,000 and leaving her devastated.
Now Hindmarch, who admitted two counts of burglary, has been locked up for six-and-a-half years.
Jailing him at Newcastle Crown Court, a judge said the items taken from the Mansion House were “irreplaceable”.
Judge Penny Moreland said: “The Mansion House is owned by the city of Newcastle and is filled with valuable items belonging to the city of Newcastle. The items stolen are of significant civic importance and are irreplaceable.
“You were part of a team which burgled that property and this was a planned, organised and extremely serious burglary.”
The Mansion House contains many items of historical importance, many of which have been donated to the city.
On March 30 the premises had been secured for the Easter bank holiday.
Late that night the alarm went off when Hindmarch and others broke in by smashing a ground floorwindow in the dining room.
CCTV showed three raiders placing various items in bags and they were in the property for 10 minutes.
After leaving, two of the burglars returned an hour later to steal more valuables.
Hindmarch had cut himself during the burglary and was identified as a culprit after leaving his blood at the scene.
Among the £150,000 haul was a Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Labour Party founder Arthur Henderson worth £11,000, four silver handled presentation cups commemorating peace with Germany at the end of the First World War, worth £47,500, a £13,000 snuff box from 1897 and a lock of Tyneside naval hero Lord Collingwood’s hair.