Prolific burglar found guilty of going for gold

Local man to receive substantial sentence for stealing Cracknell's medals

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A 30 year old man has been found guilty of breaking into the Chiswick home of Olympic hero James Cracknell. 

As well as the two gold medals won at the Athens and Sydney Olympic Games, thousands of pounds worth of electrical goods and jewellery was also stolen from Cracknell's flat back in March of this year including an £8,000 diamond-studded wedding ring.

The accused, Mark Murphy from Hammersmith, denied the burglary at his trial in Isleworth Crown Court, claiming he had been caring for his sick mother when it took place.

However the prosecution alleged that a footprint found outside Cracknell's flat matched Murphy's Nike trainer and that the watch Murphy was wearing at the time of his arrest was a £500 limited edition piece presented to the rower after one of his Olympic successes.

In his defence, Murphy told the court he had bought the watch outside a pub making both pieces of evidence linking him to the raid "coincidental".

His explanations didn't convince the jury who took just over an hour to conclude that he was in fact guilty as charged.

Mark Murphy had previous convictions for robbery, burglary, attempted burglary, theft, criminal damage and driving offences from a 16-year criminal career.  At the time of the burglary, he had only been out of prison for a few months. 

Mr Murphy will be sentenced next month. Presiding Judge Jonathan Lowen said "There is no outcome you can expect other than a pretty substantial sentence."

A neighbour's dog was responsible for reuniting Cracknell with his gold medals a few weeks after they were stolen.  The medals had been left under a hedge close to his Chiswick home. 

He was said to be "gutted" after the burglary and particularly saddened not only by the theft of his wedding ring but also by the fact that his young son was in the house at the time and had offered a reward for the safe return of his belongings.

It is not yet certain whether he has been reunited with his laptop containing photographs of his rowing attempt across the Atlantic and and substantial portion of the book he is currently writing based on the grueling adventure he shared with Ben Fogle.


July 3, 2006