Art thief gets 2 years for escape from prison

A bank robber and art thief with a history of record-breaking crime has had 2 years added to his jail time for escaping from custody.

Ricardo Sannd, 55, appeared in the Pukekohe District Court yesterday where Judge Anna Johns said the 2-year sentence for three offences would be served after he had finished the 16 years and nine months he was serving for stealing a valuable artwork.

In 1998 he stole a $2 million Tissot painting at gunpoint from the Auckland City Art Gallery after cutting it from its frame.

He caused considerable damage to the masterpiece Still on Top and demanded $500,000 ransom to return it.

It was later found badly damaged under a bed in Port Waikato.

Sannd, also known as Ricardo Genovese, was convicted of the theft of the painting in 1999, and of robbing a bank and an Armourguard security van, the theft of two high-powered motorcycles and firearms offences.

His 2-year sentence for escaping from custody includes a six-month discount for his early guilty plea. He was also sentenced to two years for burglary and two years for unlawfully taking a car.

Those three terms are concurrent but will be served cumulatively with the 16-year term he is serving for stealing the Tissot.

Police said the 2 years for escaping did little to send the message to prisoners about "going over the wall".

Detective Senior Sergeant Neil Grimstone said police had asked the judge for a starting point of seven years.

"It certainly doesn't appear to be a sentence that would deter these guys."

The Tissot theft was one of the country's largest when Sannd masterminded it in 1998. The painting was thought to have been stolen for a collector in Asia.

Sannd was involved in the robbery of $294,5429 from a security van at the Foodtown Supermarket in Birkenhead on Auckland's North Shore in 1984. It was the country's largest robbery at the time.

Sannd, Leslie Morris Green and Charles Thomas Willoughby were charged with the robbery.

Green was discharged without conviction but the other two were jailed for 10 years.

Sannd escaped from Tongariro Prison on February 1. He was with a work party collecting firewood when he disappeared about 11am.

He was caught in Pukekohe nearly a month later.

- NZPA

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