Kidnapper returns to court over fraud row

THE owner of a Nazi chalice who was jailed in a bizarre kidnap and blackmail plot seven years ago has been back before the courts again.

THE owner of a Nazi chalice who was jailed in a bizarre kidnap and blackmail plot seven years ago has been back before the courts again.

Derick Smith sparked national headlines when he was at the centre of a blackmail plot involving the 12in silver chalice thought to have belonged to Hermann Goering.

He was jailed after Newcastle Crown Court heard how he had kidnapped a former friend’s boxer dog after she refused to return the chalice given to her in payment for an alleged £40,000 debt.

Smith – who was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment later reduced to six weeks on appeal – was legally established as the owner of the 12in relic after civil proceedings.

But yesterday he was back before the courts for fraud after dishonestly cashing two cheques.

Smith, 58, had known South Tyneside interior designer Lesley Shaw since childhood but lost touch until they bumped into each in the summer of 2007, the court heard.

He later moved into her home as a lodger, carrying out household tasks and errands on behalf of her business, said Tom Moran, prosecuting.

But in May last year, Ms Shaw discovered Smith had paid himself £335 by forging two of her cheques.

Smith, of Elliot Street, Sacriston, County Durham, admitted fraud and was ordered to pay back the £335 and fined £250 after Judge Richard Lowden described it as a “mean” offence.

Andrew Finlay, defending, said while Ms Shaw maintained Smith was no more than a lodger, Smith claimed it was more than that and they were having a relationship.

He said Smith had travelled the country pursuing debts on her behalf and when their relationship ended, took two cheques as compensation for expenses he had paid out.

“He accepts she would not have agreed to that,” Mr Finlay said, adding unemployed Smith was in poor health with heart and back problems, depression and anxiety.

Speaking after the hearing, Smith claimed he paid out £200 for accommodation and £135 in fuel during a debt-collecting trip.

“We fell out over more personal matters and I left in a hurry,” he said “I took the payment from the cheques because that was outstanding – not a penny more, not a penny less – and I end up in court.”

Smith, formerly from Sunderland, said he had been offered a book deal he was currently working on about the chalice and which is to be called The Unholy Grail.

The artefact, commemorating Germany’s invasion of the Rhineland in 1936, is understood to have come from a British soldier who found it in the ruins of Goering’s home at the end of the Second World War. Smith claims the chalice came into his possession during the 1970s.

 
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