Antiques dealer trial: Witness tells of finding valuables in warehouse
A BUS driver today told the trial of an antiques dealer accused of stealing heirlooms he was entrusted to sell that he had found valuables 'strewn across the floor' of a warehouse after the man's shop closed down.
Kenneth Robb – who formerly ran Kingdom Antiques in Cupar – stands accused of stealing from his clients dating back as far as 2005.
Prosecutors allege that between January 1, 2005 and July 31, 2016 he stole paintings, jewellery, watches, musical instruments, antiques, clothing, sporting equipment, cameras and other items from 44 separate customers.
He is also alleged to have defraued two customers out of a total of more than £20,000 by selling them paintings for vastly inflated values.
Today William Jones (65) told Dundee Sheriff Court he had given Robb a series of items to sell, including musical instruments, ornaments and a fur coat.
He said he was supposed to hear from Robb when items had sold and receive the money, less a commission.
But he said he only found out Robb’s store in Cupar’s Bonnygate had closed down when he was driving a school bus to nearby Bell Baxter High School and saw it was shuttered.
Mr Jones said: “I dropped the children off and stopped on the way back.
“There was a notice in the window – it said it was moving to a warehouse in Front Lebanon, Cupar.
“The shop was empty – there wasn’t a thing in it.
“A traffic warden was passing and he said where all the stuff was and I went to the warehouse.
“I saw hundreds and hundreds of items there strewn about the floor.
“Valuable stuff was just strewn on the floor.”
Asked by fiscal depute Lynne Mannion if he had had contact with Robb after visiting the warehouse he said: “I tried phoning but just never got any answer.
“I was later in contact with the police economic crime unit and Trading Standards and I took a civil case against him.
“I wanted my goods back or my money back.
“I wanted to know what had happened to my items.
“In February this year – five years after I went to the warehouse – the police gave me a fur coat and two ornaments back. That’s all I ever got.”
Earlier Louise Seymour told the court she had also given Robb pictures and jewellery to sell on her behalf – but never saw any money or got her property back.
Miss Seymour told how she was later convinced to buy a painting that Robb told her was worth £25,000 – and purchased it for the “discounted price” of £17,000.
Prosecutors say the true value of the painting was less than £1000.
Robb is alleged to have repeated the trick on August 15, 2011 at the shop in Bonnygate, Cupar, allegedly telling Josephine Donnelly that a painting in his shop was valued at £6,500, but that he would sell it to her at a discounted price of £4,500.
However, prosecutors say the true value was only £500 and that he obtained £4,500 from her by fraud.
Miss Donnelly is due to give evidence later in the trial.
Robb (73) of Blalowan Gardens, Cupar, denies 44 charges of theft and two of fraud on summary complaint.
The trial, before Sheriff George Way, continues.