herald

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Cleaner acquitted of stealing €28k of boss's paintings

A WOMAN has been acquitted of stealing paintings worth €28,595 from her former employer, the artist Louise Mansfield.

Roza Komorova (46), from Brehon Grove, Ballinteer, Co Dublin, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to theft of the paintings from Ms Mansfield's home on Brennanstown Road, Cabinteely, on September 5, 2011.

The jury found Ms Komorova not guilty following two-and-a-half hours of deliberations and a six-day trial.

Ms Komorova initially told gardai that the paintings were hers, but later said that Ms Mansfield had asked her to move them.

She also alleged that she was having an affair with Ms Mansfield's husband, Theo Hanley, for eight years, a claim Ms Mansfield dismissed as "absolutely ludicrous".

Mr Hanley, who is a retired dentist, also denied the claim, saying that he has never been unfaithful in the 38 years of their marriage.

"Certainly if I was to be unfaithful it wouldn't be with Ms Komorova," he said.

During the trial Ms Mansfield told the prosecution that she called gardai after noticing her favourite painting of a fighting cockerel was missing from her hall in the summer of 2011.

Gardai were watching the house on the morning of the theft. Detective Garda Michael Grogan gave evidence that he hid in a room in the house with CCTV monitors before the arrival of Mr Komorova, who worked there as a cleaner.

After her arrival, Ms Mansfield and her husband left the house. Det Gda Grogan said he then saw Ms Komorova remove several paintings, place them in her van and drive away.

Waiting gardai then stopped her and searched the van. They found 21 paintings, all signed "Louise Mansfield".

She denied taking the paintings from the house and said they were her own. After gardai showed her the CCTV footage she agreed that the footage showed her removing the paintings.

Ms Komorova, a Ukrainian national who has lived in Ireland for several years, told the defence that she had not understood the question when asked who owned the paintings, and that Ms Mansfield had asked her to move them.

She also said that she and Mr Hanley were "very, very good friends". When asked to be more specific, she said "sometimes we were sleeping together".

Mr Hanley described as "Walter Mitty affair stuff" claims by Ms Komorova that he had given her two cars and made regular payments to her credit card.

denied

Mr Hanley also denied meeting Ms Komorova in Foxrock in the spring of 2013, two years after her arrest, to apologise about the prosecution.

Under cross examination, Ms Komorova was asked why she never told gardai that Ms Mansfield had told her to move the paintings. She said she thought at the beginning of the interviews that she had enough English to answer.

When Ms Duffy put it to her that in the second interview she denied even putting the paintings into the van, Ms Komorova said that proved she hadn't understood the questions.

hnews@herald.ie

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