A man convicted of an “audacious and well-planned” raid to steal LS Lowry artworks valued at £1.7m has been given an indefinite jail sentence.
Casey Miller, 23, of Denton, Greater Manchester, was found guilty of robbery after posing as a postman to get into the home of art collector Ivan Aird.
Manchester Crown Court heard how Miller threatened to kill Mr Aird’s wife and young daughter during the raid in 2007.
He must serve a minimum of five years and one month before parole.
The paintings, including the £700,000 Viaduct, have never been found and police are still hunting for Miller’s accomplices.
Miller has 28 previous convictions and is already serving a four-year sentence for grievous bodily harm.
On Tuesday, he was given an indeterminate prison sentence for public protection, which means he will stay in jail until the parole board thinks he is no longer a risk to the public.
Judge Andrew Gilbart
Jailing him, Judge Andrew Gilbart QC, Recorder of Manchester, said: “This was a well-planned, brutally executed robbery.”
“I do not think you planned the raid… You have been hired as a useful piece of muscle to terrify the householders.
“It was a ruthlessly planned, professional crime in which property valued at £1.7m was taken.
“They will never be available for anyone else to enjoy, apart from your gang’s criminal customers.
“That is a loss to the wider public and especially a loss to this region.”
Miller told police he “didn’t know Lowry from Adam” and denied involvement, but was convicted by a jury following a trial at Manchester Crown Court last month.
Miller was only arrested because Mrs Aird caught sight of his face during the robbery.
Hours after the raid she provided an e-fit to police with an “exceptionally good likeness”.
The case was featured on the BBC’s Crimewatch and police got a tip-off the man they wanted was Miller.
He was arrested and Mrs Aird picked him out at an identity parade.
Mr Aird had known LS Lowry as a boy and the artist was a friend of the family.
He became a leading specialist in Lowry’s works and ran a business, Grove Fine Art, from his home in Cheadle.
Outside court Mr Aird said: “God knows where the paintings are now.
“It is impossible to say. I just think it has been done to order.”
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