The guilty plea from one of the men accused of stealing rare war medals from the Waiouru Army Museum has been welcomed by the museum director, who says the robbery took a terrible toll on his staff.
Colonel Raymond Seymour said the guilty plea was "marvellous news ... It brings closure to a terrible crime."
A 39-year-old man pleaded guilty yesterday in the Auckland District Court to the museum burglary on December 2, 2007. He was remanded in custody until next month.
The man's name and other details cannot be reported because of suppression orders.
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Colonel Seymour said staff were badly affected by the thefts. "I don't think people realise the impacts the thefts had on my staff. They were just absolutely devastated. They were custodians of national treasure."
After the thefts, it was "like someone stole the heart from the museum", he said.
Ninety-six medals, including nine Victoria Crosses, two George Crosses and an Albert Medal, were stolen from locked display cabinets that were supposed to be protected with reinforced glass. Security at the museum has been improved since the burglary.
The medals have been back on display since October and have been a major draw for visitors.