A CRICKLADE antiques dealer who dishonestly handled a set of medals awarded to one of Britain's greatest composers, Sir Edward Elgar, was sentenced to six months jail yesterday (Sep 2) - but walked free from court because he had already served that length of time while in custody in remand.

The medals, an Order of Merit, and the Grand Cross of The Royal Victorian Order, were stolen from Elgar's birthplace at Lower Broadheath, Worcestershire, on June 27, 2019 and later found their way into the possession of Craig McShane, 43, of Ennerdale Ave, Longlevens, Gloucester, who ran an antiques business in Cricklade.

Elgar's birthplace at The Firs, Lower Broadheath, is now run by the National Trust as a museum in memory of the composer of such loved classics as the Enigma Variations and the Pomp and Circumstance Marches.

The medals, along with a signed photograph of the composer, were subsequently recovered and returned to the the National Trust and the Elgar Foundation in Worcester.

Sir Edward Elgar was born in 1857 in Broadheath and his compositions, including the Dream of Gernotius, led to him being appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1924. He died ten years later in 1934.

Having initially denied the three charges against him, McShane, 42, pleaded guilty at yesterday’s hearing at Gloucester Crown Court to a single charge of dishonestly handling stolen goods, namely the Order of Merit medal and the Grand Cross of The Royal Victorian Order, to the value of approximately £50,000 belonging to the National Trust and Elgar Foundation, between June 27, 2019 and February 20, 2020 at The Firs, Elgar's birthplace, Lower Broadheath in Worcester knowing or believing them to be stolen.

The other two charges were ordered to lie on the court file without being proceeded with. McShane also admitted that he was in breach of a suspended sentence order.

Lloyd Jenkins, defending, said: “McShane became involved in this because he kept the wrong sort of company, but it has been proven that his involvement in this offence was fairly limited.”

Mr Jenkins explained at an earlier hearing that McShane took possession of the items at his premises in High Street, Cricklade, where handling stolen antiques and ceramics often became a hazard when dealing items of this nature.

The judge also ordered McShane to pay £1,000 costs and a victim surcharge of £115. He also fined him £50 for breaching a suspended sentence order.

McShane will have to face Proceeds of Crime confiscation proceedings at a hearing in the New Year.