A MAN jailed for taking his ex-lover's dog in an attempt to retrieve a £2m silver chalice once owned by Nazi henchman Hermann Goering was freed yesterday.

Derek Smith's "manifestly excessive" nine-month sentence was cut at London's Court of Appeal after being imposed at Newcastle Crown Court on March 15, for an offence of blackmail.

The 51-year-old, of Tuscan Road, Sunderland, admitted holding to ransom the dog of former partner, Susan Morton, in an attempt to make her return the 12in artefact looted from Germany at the end of the Second World War.

Inscribed with the words, "In memory of the great time 7.3.36 - Hermann Goering", it is thought to have marked the invasion of the Rhineland in 1936.

Goering, who headed the Luftwaffe, was Adolf Hitler's number two, but fell out of favour and committed suicide at the end of the war.

Describing Smith's offence as "mean", Mr Justice Wright said although a custodial sentence was justified, one of six weeks would be more appropriate.

The sentence reduction means Smith, who was released on bail when he won permission to appeal on April 19, will not have to return to jail.