|Not Guilty: Sammy Afeeva|
A man who took delivery of two limited-edition ‘Banksy’ prints worth £22,950 bought by a credit card fraudster has been cleared of handling the stolen artwork.
Two valuable examples of the mystery street artist's work were sent to 25 year-old Sammy Afeeva, who was arrested after an undercover police officer delivered two more.
Afeeva, of Cedar Court, Fairlawn, Charlton claims he did not know the artwork was the result of a scam on Brandler Galleries Ltd., of Coptfold Road, Brentwood, Essex.
He pleaded not guilty to two counts of handling stolen goods between November 13, 2012 and February 8, 2013, namely 'Banksy' prints 'No Ball Games' and 'Wrong War.'
He also denied attempting to handle two more stolen 'Banksy' prints on February 8, 2013.
A jury failed to reach a decision following a trial and not guilty verdicts were later entered when plans for a second trial were scrapped.
Prosecutor Mr. Bartholomew O'Toole told Woolwich Crown Court gallery owner John Brandler sold authentic limited-edition 'Banksy' prints and 'No Ball Games' was ordered by a Shirley Galloway and delivered to Manthorp Road, Plumstead.
The credit card company had not authorised the transaction and Mr. Brandler lost the £5,250, along with £7,700 when the 'Wrong War' print was bought in similar circumstances.
When a third order was placed with Mr. Brandler police launched an undercover operation and delivered a washing machine lid instead of the two prints and Afeeva signed for the package at the Manthorp Road address.
"Police identified themselves and spoke to Afeeva in the room he occupied and the fake package was there," added Mr. O'Toole. "He was then arrested.
"His home address was searched and the print 'Wrong War' was found in his bedroom along with an envelope addressed to the gallery owner John Brandler."
When quizzed at Plumstead Police Station Afeeva claimed he had been hired in a local bookies by a black male, in his thirties, known only as 'Stone' to sign for the two package in return for £130 and £150.
"He knew when he was signing for these prints this was property that had been stolen and he was telling lies in interview to disguise his involvement."