Woman ‘illegally possessed’ art stolen from SA’s Mervyn Smith
SEAN FEWSTER, COURT REPORTER
January 13, 2009 02:30pm
POLICE have enough evidence to prove a woman illegally possessed canvasses stolen as part of the the largest art theft in SA history, a court has heard.
However, the Adelaide Magistrates Court was today told officers may not be able to prove Lilya Flaks stole the art herself – and will likely drop some of the charges.
Flaks, 55, of Heathpool, has yet to plead to one count of larceny and one count of unlawful possession.
She is accused of stealing 28 abstract landscapes, waterscapes and portraits – valued at more than $500,000 – painted by renowned artist Mervyn Smith.
Today Senior Sergeant Fred Wojtasik, prosecuting, said senior officers were considering his recommendation to go to trial on only the lesser count of unlawful possession.
“A recommendation has gone to my superiors, which they need time to consider before the matter advances further,” he said.
“That proposal is the withdrawal of the larceny charge.”
The paintings – including a highly-prized work of the Whyalla docks – went missing from Mr Smith’s Parkside home in 1991.
Mr Smith died of cancer, aged 89, in 1994.
In 2008, the missing art was discovered at private homes in Heathpool and Trinity Gardens.
Police had reopened the case a year earlier following a tip-off from a member of the public.
At the time, Mr Smith’s daughter, Angela Elliot, said she was “thrilled” to have recovered the work.
“My father died without knowing what happened to the paintings,” Ms Elliot said.
“He’d be looking down now, smiling.”
Today, Sen-Sgt Wojtasik said police were confident they had evidence sufficient to prove the lesser charge.
Magistrate Bill Ackland remanded the matter to next month.