A JURY has found Mark Royden guilty of attempting to steal Salisbury Cathedral's Magna Carta, by using a hammer.

He was also found guilty of criminal damage, by causing more than £14,000 of damage to a case protecting the 800-year-old document, on October 25, 2018.

Royden, of Kent, originally denied the charges.

The jury of seven women and five men made their decision after four hours.

This comes after three days of evidence.

During the trial, the jury of seven women and five men were shown a video of Royden damaging CCTV cameras in the cathedral, which prosecutor Rob Welling said the defendant had scoped out beforehand.

Salisbury Journal:

The court heard Royden pulled a fire alarm before being chased by both staff and members of the public.

Royden set off a fire alarm in the toilet area of The Cloisters before entering the Chapter House and damaging the glass case containing Magna Carta.

He used a hammer to strike the glass case containing the Magna Carta three times, causing three circular holes. 

However, Royden was quickly apprehended by staff before being handed over to police, who he then criticised for "taking your time" and having "no tasers or arms [weapons]". "It's ridiculous," he added.

The trial heard that the defendant "doubted" the authenticity of Salisbury Cathedral's Magna Carta after making an "odd prepared statement" to police.

Nicholas Cotter, defending, asked for a pre-sentence report to be completed, adding that Royden’s intention to steal was “momentary” with an “air of spontaneity”.

The defendant was described as a “man with difficulties”, who “understands and acknowledges the risk he has taken”.

Mr Cotter added: “This is a man who should be dealt with in the community with guidance and support.”

In response Judge Richard Parkes QC said it is "overwhelmingly likely" that Royden will go to prison, adding: “[Royden's] realisitic position is immediate sentence of inprisonment."

A pre-sentencing report, detailing the defendant’s background, will now be completed.

He has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced on February 25.

Salisbury Journal: Mark Royden pictured after being arrested in 2018. Picture: Raymond Molin-Wilkinson Mark Royden pictured after being arrested in 2018. Picture: Raymond Molin-Wilkinson

Detective Constable Richard Barratt, from Salisbury CID, said: “This is a case which has understandably attracted significant attention due to the priceless and irreplaceable nature of the document in question.

“We may never understand Royden’s motivation in carrying out this attack, but luckily no lasting damage was caused to Magna Carta and it is now back on display in Salisbury Cathedral.

“I would like to thank everyone at the cathedral for their co-operation and support during this investigation.”

The Very Reverend Nicholas Papadopulos, Dean of Salisbury said: “We are relieved that the case is over and that a document of Magna Carta’s significance is unharmed and remains available to all; we are glad that no one was hurt in the incident; and we are proud of our staff, volunteers and visitors, who acted quickly and courageously.”