Former HBJ partners cleared of involvement in Da Vinci theft

Two former HBJ Gateley Wareing partners have been found not guilty of trying to extort money for the safe return of a stolen Leonardo da Vinci masterpiece.

David Boyce, who had been a property partner at the firm, and Calum Jones, a former insolvency partner, were among five people charged with trying to extort £4.25m for the return of the Madonna Of The Yarnwinder. The painting had been stolen from the late Duke of Buccleuch’s Drumlanrig Castle in August 2003.

Today a jury in Edinburgh High Court cleared Boyce and Jones of the charges while charges against solicitor Marshall Ronald, formerly of Lancashire firm Marshall Solicitors, and private investigators Robert Graham and John Doyle were found not proven.

Jones was first arrested in October 2007 after police raided the firm’s Glasgow office and recovered the painting. At the time it was reported that Jones had been checking that the repatriation of the painting, which was taken overseas following the theft, was valid in Scots law (5 October 2007).

Boyce was not in the office at the time of the raid, having left to attend an external meeting in Glasgow.

The pair were later charged with conspiracy to rob and extort money.

In 2008 the SRA closed down Ronald’s firm, Marshall Solicitors, over “suspected dishonesty and breaches of the solicitor account rules” (22 September 2008).