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MUSEUM WRECKER 'SMASHED VASES ON PURPOSE' Visitor faces charges over criminal damage.

Byline: By Cara Page

A MUSEUM visitor who claimed he accidentally smashed three 17th century vases has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage.

Nick Flynn, 42, said he had tripped on a shoelace and fallen down some stairs into the uninsured Chinese porcelain exhibits.

They are part of a set of five with an estimated value of pounds 200,000-pounds 300,000.

A restorer has been working to glue more than 400 pieces back together since the incident in January at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

It is hoped to have one back on on show at the museum by June.

The unemployed 42-year-old was arrested at his home in the Cambridgeshire village of Fowlmere.

A police spokesman said: "A 42-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of criminal damage in connection with an incident at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge on January 25."

Flynn has also been arrested in connection with an alleged assault in the city in February.

After the breakage, he was photographed lying amid the shattered porcelain and described it as "my Norman Wisdom moment".

But he said later: "I can say with my hand on my heart it was not deliberate.

Stuntman

"I don't think a movie stuntman would have been able to tumble downstairs, destroy the vases and come out unscathed."

Last week, Flynn was barred from entering the museum which was holding a news conference to show the work that was being done on reconstructing the vases.

When he tried to gain entry, museum officials blocked his way.

He said he had returned to check that there were "no hard feelings".

Museum director Duncan Robinson said Flynn had not been banned from the museum.

But he added that staff had thought it wise that Flynn should stay away in the aftermath of the incident.

Mr Robinson also said they might review their insurance policy in the light of what had happened.

CAPTION(S):

SMASHING: Flynn crashes into vases' NO GO: Flynn was barred
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Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 6, 2006
Words:330
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