THE trial of a man accused of the burglary of a number of remote country houses in East Anglia has begun in Ipswich Crown Court.
Ian Ling, 58, of Stowmarket pleaded not guilty to 16 offences of burglary including a raid on Wood Hall in Bacton, Norfolk and Street Farm in Earl Soham, Suffolk as well as offences of possession of criminal property and of going equipped for theft.
A second man, Clive Clark, 39, of Tollgate Lane, Bury St Edmunds, is on trial alongside Mr Ling also accused of going equipped for theft. He has also pleaded not guilty.
Both men were arrested in the grounds of Thorington Hall, Blythburgh, on November 7, 2008 after a family member called the authorities and a Suffolk Police helicopter was mobilised. A vehicle was found nearby containing a craft knife, a glass cutter and a jemmy.
Police later raided a lock-up rented by Mr Ling in Stonham Aspal, where they found art and antiques, including some identified as stolen from properties in Suffolk.
After he was released on bail, Mr Ling was spotted in a parked van containing antiques stolen from Thorington Hall.
Mr Ling claims the items had been purchased from auctions or car boot sales but he had kept no written records. The trial continues.
• MEANWHILE, in a separate case, Sussex Police have charged a man over last year's £1m antiques raid on Firle Place, near Lewes. Graham Harkin, 58, from Wakefield, Yorkshire, is due to appear at Lewes Magistrates Court on September 1.
Sèvres porcelain including a pair of vases made in 1763 and a vase Hollandaise Nouveau and a Commedia dell'arte figure group were stolen during the burglary, which took place at the country seat of the Gage family for over 500 years, in July 2009. None of the stolen items have been recovered.
• POLICE are appealing for information about thieves who robbed a Brighton dealer after following him from a fair to his storage facility in the local area.
The man was robbed of thousands of pounds worth of stock including a pair of eagle bookends, a pair of brass cannons and Art Deco statues, as he closed up his garage in Clarendon Place, Brighton, at about 4pm on Saturday, July 17.
Investigating officer DC James Meanwell of Sussex Police issued a statement saying: "We believe this may have been a pre-planned robbery and that the victim may have been followed from a car show at the Saltdean Oval."
Anyone with information should call Sussex Police on 0845 6070999 quoting the crime reference number 1312/July 17.