A FOUR-FOOT tall thief who tried to sell a million-pound violin stolen from internationally-renowned musician Min-Jin Kym (pictured) for £100 will be freed from jail a year earlier than expected.
John Michael Maughan, 30, of Cranstone Close, West Ruislip, won an appeal to have his sentence cut after a judge heard he had become ‘a pariah in the travelling community’ and was being targeted inside prison for naming his accomplices.
Two teenage boys acted as Maughan’s decoy during the theft of a £1.2m 1696 Antonio Stradivarius violin from a world-famous musician at Euston Station in November 2010.
Maughan later tried to sell the instrument to a bus driver for £100 but was told: “My daughter’s already got a recorder.”
Maughan was originally jailed for four and a half years at Blackfriars Crown Court in April 2011 after he admitted the crime. The two youths, who Maughan identified to police, were prosecuted but not jailed.
Despite the violin – one of only 450 of its kind in existence – still not having been recovered, Maughan’s sentence was cut to three-and-a-half years at the Court of Appeal last week.
Neville Rudston, acting for Maughan, said his client felt particularly vulnerable to attack because of his stature. The sentence he received, he said, was near the maximum for the crime committed and was akin to those given for ‘Hollywood heist movie thefts’.
Korean musician Min-Jin Kym said the loss of her violin had ruined her life.
Judge Brian Barker QC said: “The tragedy of the present case is that, although this was not a targeted theft, this was an item of the immense value which was apparent to the group within 24 hours, and there has been no help as to the onward journey of that violin and its present whereabouts.”
But he concluded: “We have given this matter anxious consideration and, despite the devastating effect that this theft had on Miss Kym, it is our view that this sentence was too high.”
Maughan is expected to be released from jail within a year.