A MAN who tried to steal Salisbury’s Magna Carta with a hammer has been jailed for four years.
Mark Royden was today given his sentence at Salisbury Crown Court after being found guilty of attempting to steal the historic document when he tried to use the tool to smash its security case on October 25, 2018.
Following a jury trial back in January, he was also found guilty of criminal damage to the display case, which cost £14,466 to repair.
Royden, of Kent, originally denied the charges.
Sentencing Royden, Judge Richard Parkes QC said: “This was a determined attempt on a document of huge historical importance.
“Magna Carta is a document of huge importance to our country and many other countries that share our democratic traditions.”
The judge praised the “courageous” acts of visitors and staff who apprehended Royden including tourists Matthew and Alexis Delcambre from New Iberia, Louisiana, USA.
He called on the High Sheriff of Wiltshire, Major General Ashley Truluck, who attended the hearing, to award Mr Delcambre an award of £1,000 and £500 to cathedral employee Gary Price.
He said: “This is a story of a few good people acting alertly and bravely and they deserve our sincere thanks.”
Rob Welling, prosecuting, said that Royden made an “odd prepared statement” to police during which he “doubted the authenticity” of Magna Carta.
His comments included: “You can’t talk to me about the holy grail so to speak, if you find a bag on the floor which says cocaine on it, you would have to test that bag forensically, as for your holy grail, you would need a carbon test and a trace element test.”
Mr Welling said that Royden has 23 previous convictions covering 51 offences including theft and criminal damage including against items “of the establishment”.
These included spray painting the doors of Exeter police station, attacking council benches with an angle-grinder and putting a concrete block through the windows of a solicitor’s firm.
Nicholas Cotter, defending, said that a serious car accident in 1991 had “tragically” affected the defendant causing him brain damage and leading him to be subject of a court of protection order over his finances and requiring a carer.
He added: “He has become a pest and a pain, mired in drink and drugs, heroin has been the drug of choice and alcohol has blighted him.
“He is a caring, kind and helpful man and tries to do his best by people but he is blighted by demons.”
He added: “Mr Royden wishes me to advance he couldn’t plead guilty to the offences because there was a Russian flag on the cathedral at some point and he didn’t feel he could advance a guilty plea because that may implicate him as a Russian spy because of Theresa May.”