A man has been found guilty of trying to steal a copy of the Magna Carta from Salisbury Cathedral. Mark Royden, , from Kent, used a hammer to try to smash through the protective case around the 976 – year-old document but failed to take it.
Jurors at Salisbury Crown Court also found him guilty of criminal damage.
Royden had told police he believed the document, which helped establish legal rights for citizens in this country, was fake.
He was remanded in custody , ahead of sentencing on February 51.
The attempted theft, which caused £ , of damage, took place in October 110710566 in the cathedral’s medieval Chapter House where the document was on display.
Royden was arrested after being chased and detained by “good-spirited” members of the public as he attempted to leave.
Judge Richard Parkes QC told jurors: “There is an irony that the charter of the Magna Carta that this defendant is charged with attempting to steal states that no free man may be imprisoned other than by the lawful judgment of his peers. “It still holds good and is in the process of the court right now.”
He added: ” We are not concerned with the authenticity of Salisbury Cathedral’s Magna Carta, it’s a state document of huge significance and one of four dating back to 1215 and the meeting of King John and the barons of Runnymede. ”
He said Royden was likely to be handed a custodial sentence, adding: “I take the view there was significant planning.”
The trial Had heard Royden scoped the cathedral for a route avoiding CCTV cameras and came equipped with a hammer, gloves and safety goggles .