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Art thief who stole 18th century Icon from Chester Cathedral jailed

Vasily Apilats Credit: Cheshire Police

An art thief from Crewe has been jailed today for stealing an 18th century Icon from Chester Cathedral.

Vasily Apilats replaced the 'Raising of the Lazarus' Icon with an angle figure during the robbery in August 2014.

The Icon (seen on the left) was replaced with this cheap wooden angel (right) Credit: Cheshire Police

The 61-year-old was arrested at his home in Crewe on 17 September 2014 after officers discovered the piece of art, which is worth £2,500, wrapped inside a black bin bag in his dining room. It was found hoarded with a room full of other religious artefacts.

Vasily Apilats' room Credit: Cheshire Police

During the trial it was revealed that officers were able to identify Apilats as the suspect after his DNA was recovered from swabs taken from the picture stand which the Icon was attached to.

In today's sentencing hearing, the court was told that Apilats had been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder.

Today, Apilats was sentenced to 9 months in prison.

Apilats is a man who appears to be obsessed with religious artefacts. He selfishly took an Icon, which was not only of significant value but was also of huge importance to Chester Cathedral and the public who used it as an aid to pray.

– Sgt Neil Doleman, Cheshire Police

We are delighted to be able to re-instate the stolen eighteenth century icon here at the cathedral. It has now been returned to its rightful place in St Anselm’s Chapel, a place used for prayer and refection.

The icon was gifted to the cathedral by a former Dean of Chester, Ingram Cleasby, so it is a very meaningful part of the history of the building.

– Chester Cathedral Constable, Chris Jones