A burglar has admitted a smash-and-grab raid on the Newmarket Horseracing Museum that saw thieves get away with the Ascot gold vase and the 1907 Chesterfield Cup.

James Sheen, 37, also pleaded guilty to planning explosions and raids on ATMs across the Home Counties.

They included thefts targeting cash machines at Co-ops in Chinnor and Botley.

Appearing before Oxford Crown Court on Thursday afternoon via video link from Coldingley prison, Sheen, of Warren Crescent, Headington, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to cause an explosion between June 1, 2019 and August 7, 2019, conspiracy to burgle between December 1, 2019 and May 12, 2020, burgling the Newmarket Horseracing Museum on May 8, theft of a Toyota Landcruiser in May last year, attempting to steal a Mitsubishi on May 14, 2020, using a stolen BMW last May, and conspiracy to steal plant machinery.

He pleaded not guilty to burglaries at Co-op stores in Chinnor, Botley and Newbury between December 8 and 9, 2019, and conspiracy to burgle commercial premises between June 1 and August 7, 2019.

Prosecutor Barry McElduff confirmed that the pleas were acceptable. Sheen was represented by barrister Michael Neofytou.

Among the items taken in the raid on the Newmarket museum last year were the Ascot gold vase, the 1907 Chesterfield Cup, trophies for the 1833 and 1838 Lincoln Cup.

At the time, museum bosses said that a total of 10 trophies had been stolen in the smash-and-grab raid on May 8. A battering ram was allegedly used to smash through cabinets made from bulletproof glass.

A £50,000 reward was put up for information leading to the discovery of the culprits.

Museum chief executive Dr Steven Parissien said last year: "At a time we are all supposed to be standing together during the coronavirus pandemic, it's very disappointing this has happened.

"They were wonderful pieces of art and so recognisable."

Sheen will be sentenced next year.


The Bletchingdon Co-op was targeted in a ram raid in 2020 Picture: OXFORD MAIL

The Bletchingdon Co-op was targeted in a ram raid in 2020 Picture: OXFORD MAIL


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