A MAN, Mark Royden, aged 46, has been convicted of the attempted theft of the 800-year-old Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral (News, 31 January).
Mr Royden was convicted on Thursday of last week of the attempted theft, and causing £14,466-worth of criminal damage to its display case. He has been told to expect a prison sentence.
During the five-day trial at Salisbury Crown Court, the jury heard how Mr Royden had reconnoitred the cathedral for a route, and came equipped with a hammer, gloves, and safety goggles. He also set off a fire alarm as a distraction.
Judge Richard Parkes QC asked for a pre-sentence report, saying: “The reality is that it’s overwhelmingly likely that Mr Royden is going to get an immediate sentence of custody. I take the view there was significant planning.”
Mr Royden was remanded in custody until sentencing, which is expected to be on 25 February.
During the trial, the judge told the jury: “There is an irony that the charter of the Magna Carta, that this defendant is charged with attempting to steal, states that no free man may be imprisoned other than by the lawful judgment of his peers. It still holds good, and is in the process of the court right now.”
Mr Royden, who suffered brain damage in a car accident in 1991, has 23 previous convictions for offences, including theft and criminal damage. He is subject to a court of protection order regarding his finances, and is aided by a carer.