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Violin restorer stole £4,000

PUBLISHED: 09:10 08 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:42 03 July 2010

A former violin restorer has been warned he could be sent to jail after being caught on the fiddle.

Stephen Lyall, who used to run Lyall Violin Restorer, Dealer and Valuer in Acle, admitted theft when he appeared at Yarmouth magistrates court yesterday.

A former violin restorer has been warned he could be sent to jail after being caught on the fiddle.

Stephen Lyall, who used to run Lyall Violin Restorer, Dealer and Valuer in Acle, admitted theft when he appeared at Yarmouth magistrates court yesterday.

The court heard that the 48-year-old had been contacted by William Moorhouse in 2006 when Mr Moorhouse decided that he wanted to sell an Italian 19th century violin which had been bought for him as a child.

They reached an agreement that Lyall, of Eastern Avenue in Caister, would sell the violin for about £4,000 and would take commission after repairs had been undertaken.

Rachel Balfour, prosecuting, said that Mr Moorhouse contacted Lyall every few months over the next two years but was repeatedly told that the instrument had not yet been sold.

In August 2008 - nearly two years after handing over the violin - Mr Moorhouse decided that he no longer wanted to sell it and contacted Lyall to get it back.

He eventually tracked down Lyall at his home address, but was then told that the instrument had been sold to a professional musician just a few months after it was handed over in 2006, and that Lyall had kept the £4,000 profit for himself.

Miss Balfour said that Mr Moorhouse decided to sell the violin because he knew it was valuable and he had not played it for some time.

She said: “Mr Moorhouse told police that the incident had been very upsetting. He was the main carer for his 86-year-old mother and money from the sale of the violin was going to be used for improvements to her house.”

Annette Hall, defending, said that Lyall's business had been in serious financial trouble at the time and that he had hoped he would be able to make enough money in the months after the sale to pay Mr Moorhouse back.

The case has been adjourned for reports and chairman of the bench Peter Albrow told Lyall that he cannot rule out a custodial sentence.

He said: “This was a breach of trust involving something which was entrusted to you. You repeatedly lied to your client over a period of two years. We understand that you were in financial trouble, but the loss was significant to the violin owner.”

Lyall was released on unconditional bail and will return to Yarmouth magistrates court for sentence on January 28.


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