Thursday, October 26, 2006

Library thief

A library assistant who stole rare books valued at £175,000 to sell on the internet has been given 250 hours' community service.

Norman Buckley, 44, of Hulme, took more than 455 ancient books, posters and documents while working as an assistant at Manchester's Central Library.

The books he stole included a 16th Century Chaucer edition worth £35,000.

At the city's Crown Court Buckley was sentenced to 15 months in prison to be suspended for two years.

The illegal haul also included a 1654 publication of 17th Century poet John Donne's Elegies valued at £1,800. Buckley sold 44 of the books on internet auction site eBay, but most of the books were recovered by police at his flat in Hulme.

He was dismissed from his job in March this year.

Judge Clement Goldstone QC told Buckley his sentence was suspended because he had helped police find the books, which the judge described as part of the city's "literary heritage".

"Every time you offered a book for sale, you were breaking the trust that had been placed in you," he said. "The ultimate loss to the city and its heritage may have been measured, if it can be measured at all, in the thousands of pounds rather than the tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds. You have brought shame on yourself and your family by your behaviour."

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