A MAN charged in connection with a £2m antiques theft at the Oriental Museum in Durham City has appeared in court, as police issued a picture of another man they want to speak to about the raid.
Lee Wildman, who was granted bail when first arrested after the raid last month, was rearrested in a hotel in the West Midlands on Tuesday.
The 35-year-old appeared before Peterlee Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with conspiracy to commit burglary.
Gale Gilchrist, prosecuting, applied to have the case committed to Durham Crown Court. She said: “This is an indictable- only offence.”
District Judge Kristina Harrison agreed and said Mr Wildman would appear at the higher court on Wednesday.
He was arrested with Adrian Stanton, 32, and two women, aged 27 and 19, who were present at the same premises.
Those three were last night in Durham Police custody being interviewed by detectives.
The raid on the Oriental Museum took place on April 5. A gang smashed a hole in a wall and took two valuable artefacts, a solid jade bowl and an elaborate porcelain figurine, from the Qing Dynasty.
Eight days later the artefacts were recovered by police from a field in Brandon, on the outskirts of Durham City.
Four men, including Mr Wildman, and one woman, all from the West Midlands, were arrested days after the offence, but he was granted bail.
One of the men, aged 27, has since been released with no further action but the other two men and the woman are on police bail until early June.
Police have also named a third man they wish to trace in connection with the burglary at the museum. On Tuesday night’s BBC Crimewatch programme a photograph of Justin Oliver Clarke, 31, was shown to viewers to illustrate an appeal for information on his whereabouts.
His last known address was in the Brownhills area of Walsall.
Crimewatch also featured an appeal for information on the break-in at Cambridge University’s Fitzwilliam Museum on April 13 which led to the theft of various Chinese antiques dating back to the 14th Century.
These have not yet been recovered and while no formal link has been made between the two burglaries, police are keeping an open mind.