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A BOGUS postman led a gang of robbers who stole paintings by LS Lowry worth pounds 1.7m, a court heard yesterday.

It is claimed Casey Miller rang the doorbell then pushed past the terrified wife of art dealer Ivan Aird. He was tied up and his wife Louise and two-year-old daughter threatened.

A gang of thieves then stole paintings and drawings by Lowry and other artists.

Paintings taken included Lowry's 'The Viaduct' and 'Tanker Entering the Tyne'.

Manchester crown court heard it was an "audacious and wellexecuted" raid.

Mr Aird, who as a child knew Lowry, was targeted because he specialised in works by the Lancashire artist.

Michael Leeming, prosecuting, said: "Original works of art by Lowry, art memorabilia and works by other artists, valued between pounds 1.3million and pounds 1.7million were stolen."

He told the jury: "LS Lowry is an artist who will be familiar to you all.

"His works are highly valuable and highly collectable. "He's famous of course because he captured an era of individuals and landscapes which has been largely lost to us."

Casey Miller allegedly led the robbery at Mr Aird's home in Cheadle, Cheshire, in May 2007.

The gang struck at 7.45am as Mr Aird, 42, was asleep and his wife was feeding the couple's daughter upstairs.

Mrs Aird, 41, told the jury she heard the doorbell ring and looked outside to see a man dressed as a postman at the front door.

Still wearing a nightie she carried her daughter downstairs, disabled the house alarm and unlocked the door.

She screamed as she was confronted by a man brandishing a chef's knife with a 10-inch blade.

She told the court: "He said, 'Get down or I will kill you. Don't look at me'. He grabbed my arm."

Seconds later three other men burst in, one wearing a balaclava.

Her husband was woken and was told the gang would kill him and his family.

After the robbers had fled, Mr Aird managed to free himself and raise the alarm.

Miller, 23, from Denton, Greater Manchester denies robbery. The trial continues.


THREATENED Art dealer Aird
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Feb 18, 2009
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