Man who damaged Monet painting jailed for possession of stolen antique books

Andrew Shannon
Andrew Shannon

An amateur antique dealer has been jailed after he was caught with 57 stolen antique books, including an extremely rare King James Bible.

Andrew Shannon (51) was previously jailed for damaging a €10 million Monet painting at the National Gallery in December 2014.

Shannon of Willans Way, Ongar, Dublin pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the books at his home while knowing or being reckless as to whether they were stolen on March 3, 2007. He was convicted by a jury last February.

Judge Petria McDonnell sentenced him to one year in prison with the final six months suspended.

Shannon was previously sentenced to six years imprisonment with the final 15 months suspended for damaging the Claude Monet painting. He had denied the charge but was convicted following trial. He moved to appeal his conviction in December of last year but judgment is still awaited.

Shannon’s 35 other convictions include theft and burglary.

The court heard that the 57 stolen books had originated in the library of Carton House in Kildare, the historical family seat of the FitzGerald family.

Detective Garda Des Breathnach told Maurice Coffey BL, prosecuting, that in November 2006 the owner of Carton House reported that the books had been stolen after they were put in storage during the restoration of the country house.

The "distinctive books" were later found "openly on show" on "two bookshelves" in the house of Shannon in March 2007. Shannon was arrested in November of the same year.

Counsel said that the books were "an antique gem" and included a 1660 edition of the King James Bible. There was an agreement at the trial that the total overall value of the books was €6,500.

Shannon told gardaí he had purchased these books at a fete in the Midlands in 2002.

Conor Mallaghan gave evidence during the trial that he has worked at Carton House since 1994 overseeing its restoration after his father’s company bought the estate in 1977. He said that before restoration work began, he put all items in the house, including the library books, into storage.

He said he photographed each book before storing it.

The books remained in boxes until 2006 when the process of restoring them to the library began. Mr Mallaghan said it was then he noticed the missing books and went to the gardaí.

Defence counsel John Fitzgerald BL said his client suffered from a heart condition and asked the court to take this into account.

Judge McDonnell said that Shannon trained as a French polisher and was an amateur antique dealer who had a "propensity based on previous convictions of acquiring things."

She said that the books were "part of the heritage of Carton House."

"I note they were well maintained and safe as there were photos showing where they were kept in Mr Shannon's house," she said.