Organised crime gang with Limerick links to be sentenced for rhino horn plot

Organised crime gang with Limerick links to be sentenced for rhino horn plot
John 'Kerry' O'Brien Jr and Richard 'Kerry' O'Brien.

More than a dozen members of an organised crime gang are due to be sentenced after plotting to steal rhino horn and Chinese artefacts worth up to €71m in a series of museum raids.

The gang, dubbed the Rathkeale Rovers, as eight of the men had links to the town in Co Limerick, organised break-ins at museums including Cambridge's Fitzwilliam Museum and Durham's Oriental Museum in 2012

Four of the group's generals - John "Kerry" O'Brien Jr, Richard "Kerry" O'Brien, Michael Hegarty, and Daniel "Turkey" O'Brien, all of Cambridgeshire - were found guilty of conspiracy to steal last month.

Another 10 men had previously been convicted for their part in the conspiracy, which included a bungled attempt to steal a rhino head from Norwich Castle Museum.

Although jurors at Birmingham Crown Court heard that exhibits stolen in Durham and Cambridge were valued at around €21m, detectives believe they might have fetched up to €71m on the "booming" Chinese auction market.

The defendants, aged between 28 and 68 - from Cambridgeshire, London, Southend-on-Sea, Wolverhampton, Kent and Belfast - either admitted the offences or were found guilty by jurors after a four-year international police inquiry.

One of the men convicted has already been jailed and served his sentence.

Michael Hegarty and Daniel 'Turkey' O'Brien.
Michael Hegarty and Daniel 'Turkey' O'Brien.

The other 13 are due to be sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court this morning.

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