Art fiasco ends behind bars

Possession of a stolen art print has landed a man in jail for nine months. David Joseph Ellison, 31, of Red Deer was sentenced on Monday in Red Deer provincial court after he was convicted of possession of stolen property and failing to attend court for a trial last August.

Possession of a stolen art print has landed a man in jail for nine months.

David Joseph Ellison, 31, of Red Deer was sentenced on Monday in Red Deer provincial court after he was convicted of possession of stolen property and failing to attend court for a trial last August.

Ellison, who has a lengthy record and has been in jail on unrelated matters since October, wasn’t given any credit for time served on the other matters.

Judge William Andressen of Edmonton sentenced Ellison to a concurrent 14 days in jail on the failure to appear conviction.

Const. Steven Murphy of Red Deer RCMP played the key role in busting Ellison with the stolen print Busted, a work created by Las Vegas artist Michael Godard. It was valued at about $1,700 at the time.

Murphy testified that on Feb. 16, 2010, he was scanning a Red Deer radio news website when he saw a picture and story of the print Busted, which had been stolen almost a week earlier from an art gallery at Bower Place Shopping Centre.

Murphy testified he was assisting on another officer’s search warrant on Feb. 12 at Ellison’s residence when he was taken by the print hanging on Ellison’s wall.

However, he also remembered seeing Ellison, who has a lengthy property-related record, in the gallery a few days before the limited edition print was stolen.

Murphy obtained a search warrant on Feb. 17 to search Ellison’s residence. To his surprise, Murphy found another Godard print, The Heist, hanging next to Busted. There was no value given to The Heist.

Godard is known as “the rock star of the art world,” a gallery spokesperson said earlier.

The judge ruled that Ellison was in possession of the print and displayed wilful blindness to its origin.

Andressen also said it didn’t matter what the print, one of 300, was worth, it is still a work of art.

Elision faces more serious matters at a June 17 preliminary hearing.

He was charged with trying to smuggle drugs into the Red Deer Remand Centre with a rope fashioned out of bedsheets.

Ellison faces three counts of trafficking drugs in connection with the incident last July at the downtown remand centre.

Police were called to a possible escape at the facility, where a smashed window on the north side was discovered. A rope made of bedsheets was dangling from the window to within 30 cm of the pavement.

An investigation determined the rope was being used to smuggle cocaine, oxycodone, marijuana and tobacco into the centre.

Ellison also faces unrelated drugs and weapons charges in connection with an RCMP bust on a residence in August 2009.

A trial had been set for last summer but it was adjourned. A new date hasn’t been set.

jwilson@bprda.wpengine.com