London

Scrap metal boss jailed for stashing stolen jewels in ceiling

Charles Matthews Image copyright PA
Image caption Charles Matthews claimed the haul was given to him by a friend but he had no idea it was stolen

The boss of a scrap metal business has been jailed for four and a half years for stashing jewels worth tens of thousands of pounds in a ceiling.

Charles Matthews, 55, of Virginia Water, Surrey, hid the stolen hoard of 50 diamonds and carved emeralds at his business, London City Metals.

He was found guilty of handling stolen goods earlier this month.

Southwark Crown Court was told the haul was given to him by a friend but he had no idea it was stolen.

Matthews said his friend James Tibbs had asked him to keep the jewels in his east London company's safe.

Sentencing him, Judge Joanna Korner QC said: "Indeed throughout you have protested your innocence to all of this and given the jury an account which, in my judgment, was wholly unbelievable."

Image copyright Google
Image caption The hoard was found at London City Metals in August 2015

A diamond examining kit was also found on the site in August 2015, which Matthews claimed belonged to his father.

The haul included 50 diamonds valued at about £48,750, a pair of emerald earrings estimated to be worth $40,110 (about £31,500), and a sapphire, ruby and diamond-encrusted bracelet valued at $11,160 (about £8,750).

Matthews said it was all hidden in a black bag in the ceiling because the time-delay safe broke and he decided not to have it fixed, as his business became mainly cashless following the 2013 Scrap Metal Dealers Act.

He was also disqualified from running a company for three years and ordered to pay £3,500 in costs.

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