Line drawn under art legal defence

Line drawn under art legal defence

A man previously jailed for damaging a €10m Monet painting has had second-thoughts about representing himself in an appeal for handling another artwork stolen from a stately home. Andrew Shannon, aged 54, was found guilty of handling a stolen Frederick Goodall piece at his home address at Willians Way, Ongar, Clonsilla, Dublin 15, on January 31, 2014.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the Goodall desert scene oil painting dating to 1892 was stolen from Bantry House, Seafield, Co Cork, in March 2006. Gardaí obtained a warrant to search Shannon’s home on an unrelated matter in 2014 and noticed various pieces of art hanging on his walls — one of which was the Goodall oil painting, valued at approximately €5,000.

Andrew Shannon: Was advised to seek legal help for his appeal against his conviction.
Andrew Shannon: Was advised to seek legal help for his appeal against his conviction.

Shannon was found guilty by a jury following a two-day trial and sentenced to two years’ imprisonment by Judge Patricia Ryan last November. He was due to appeal his conviction for handling the stolen Goodall piece today. However, he sacked his solicitor last month and was prepared to represent himself for the appeal.

President of the Court of Appeal, Mr Justice George Birmingham, told Shannon that his legal submissions contained “some pretty fundamental misunderstandings” about the role of an appeal court.

He said the three-judge court was “not convinced you’d be doing yourself justice if you proceed on your own behalf. You might be better off putting the matter back and getting a solicitor and counsel.”

Shannon told the judge that Mountjoy Prison is not a “country club” and access to legal resources is not easy.

He said he had approached a high-profile criminal defence solicitor to represent him but this solicitor “wanted three-and-a-half grand to deal with the case, and I can’t afford that”.

Shannon, who was on legal aid in the circuit court, agreed to find another solicitor to represent him in his appeal. Mr Justice Birmingham, who sat with Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy, said the court will slot the case into May 16 next for hearing.

Shannon has 51 previous convictions including convictions for theft, burglary, and handling stolen property. Many of these convictions relate to the theft of antiques and the burglarising of stately homes. He was previously jailed for damaging the 1874 impressionist painting Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat by Claude Monet at the National Gallery of Ireland on Clare St on June 29, 2012.

He was found guilty of damaging the Monet by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court and sentenced to six years imprisonment with the final 18 months suspended by Judge Martin Nolan in December 2014. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that Shannon has been attending art classes in Mountjoy Prison on a regular basis.

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