Man jailed over theft of £1m Wenlock Jug from Luton museum

Ronald Nash and Louis Kybert Ronald Nash, left, was jailed for three years and three months, and Louis Kybert was jailed for five years

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A man has been jailed for handling a rare medieval jug stolen from a museum in Luton.

The Wenlock Jug, valued at up to £1m, was found in a rented lock-up in Epsom, Surrey, in a towel between two stacks of tyres, Luton Crown Court heard.

It was recovered last September, four months after it was taken from Stockwood Discovery Centre.

Ronald Nash, 23, was jailed for three years and three months after admitting handling the stolen jug,

Nash, of Pitwood Green, Tadworth, Surrey, also admitted being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

National treasure

Louis Kybert, 25, of Ferndale Road, Banstead, Surrey, admitted possession of two stun guns and being concerned in the supply of Class A drugs.

He was jailed for five years.

The court heard it was not known how the jug came to be in the lock-up. It has since been returned to the museum but can no longer be displayed because of the cost of insuring it.

The Wenlock Jug is a national treasure, and one of only three in the UK.

It is made of bronze, stands 12.5 in (31.5 cm) tall and weighs 13.4 lbs (6.1 kg) and is decorated with coats of arms, badges and the inscription "My Lord Wenlock".

It is thought it was made for either William Wenlock, who was a canon at St. Paul's Cathedral, died in 1391 and is buried in Luton, or his great nephew John, the first Lord Wenlock who lived near Luton and had associations with royalty.

'Over your head'

Judge Laura Harris told Nash: "It is not only the monetary value of the jug, but it is a national heritage item.

"Individuals far more sophisticated than you, higher up the chain, were involved in this matter. You have got into something way over your head."

The jug was bought in 2006 by the Stockwood Discovery Centre for £750,000 with help from various trusts and private donations, which saved it from being sold abroad.

It was displayed in a high-security cabinet which was smashed with a drain cover on May 12 last year.

The theft was featured on the BBC's Crimewatch programme and insurers offered a £25,000 reward for the jug's return.

It was found on September 24 at a lock-up garage rented by Nash in Michelham Gardens, Epsom.

'Genuinely frightened'

The court heard the lock-up was being used for packaging Class A drugs. Traces of cocaine and ecstasy were found with cutting agents and other paraphernalia.

Police also discovered two stun guns.

Abigail Penny, for Nash, said: "The jug was so valuable it was probably unsaleable, but given his naivety he did not understand the value or the historical significance of the item.

"He has not given information to police because he is genuinely frightened."

Katie Spears, for Kybert, said: "There were pressures on him from external influences."

She said there was no evidence the stun guns had been used, and said they were of lower voltage than those used by police.

But the judge said because they were found in association with drug activity, she had to impose a minimum five-year sentence.

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