Not guilty plea in Monet damage trial

A man has gone on trial accused of damaging a €10m Monet painting in the National Gallery and damaging two paintings in the Shelbourne Hotel.

Andrew Shannon, aged 50, of Willians Way, Ongar, Dublin 15, has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to damaging Argenteuil Basin with a Single Sail Boat (1874) at the National Gallery on Clare St on June 26, 2012. He further pleaded not guilty to damaging two Felim Egan paintings at the Shelbourne Hotel on January 8, 2014.

Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, told the jury: “It was an act of almost mindless vandalism.”

Counsel said another element is the fact that Shannon was on bail when he committed the second offences and a term of his bail conditions was not to go anywhere near the National Gallery or another gallery.

“And he finds himself innocently and accidently in the room where the paintings are,’ said Mr Naidoo. “We say this is why he went to the Shelbourne Hotel.”

Garda Michael Moore told counsel he retrieved the CCTV footage from the art gallery and identified Mr Shannon to the jury as walking through the gallery.

“He went into room 13 and came back out at 10.59am,” he told the jury. He said Room 10 was where the Monet hung.

“The defendant is seen entering the right-hand side of the footage into the room. He then leaves the room and comes back in at 11.01am,” said Gda Moore.

“He is seen falling forward towards the painting and the two people near him are the couple from New Zealand.”

Sean Rainbird, director of National Gallery of Ireland, said the Monet could fetch €10m if sold but the gallery saw it as “priceless”.

The trial continues.

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