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Bordeaux wine thieves found guilty

A French court has sentenced 15 men over the audacious theft of €1.1 million of wine from some of Bordeaux’s most prestigious estates.

Château Haut-Bailly, one of the wineries targeted

Fifteen defendants went on trial in Bordeaux earlier this week, accused of stealing thousands of bottles of wine from 18 wineries and négociants including Yquem, Palmer, Léoville Las Cases from as early as June 2013.

The gang was masterminded by Yoann Gautrau, 27, a resident of Cantenac, and his uncle, William Allard. The pair first broke into Château d’Yquem in June 2013 stealing 384 half-bottles of d’Yquem 2010, worth more than $110,000, and selling it on through a network of buyers.

Their accomplices numbered 13, with the gang later breaking into Château Haut-Bailly, stealing 468 bottles, and Château Palmer, continuing their crime spree for a further eight months.

According to reports in the local press, the gang would spray their path with bleach to destroy any DNA evidence after breaking into each cellar, stealing and burning a getaway car before each heist to cover their tracks.

A total of 3,771 bottles of Bordeaux were stolen by the crime ring in total, estimated to be worth around €1 million, which were then sold onto pre-arranged buyers.

The gang were rounded up in “Operation Cassevin” in February 2014 when hundreds of gendarmes swooped on known suspects in the Gironde and other areas in France. As well as finding equipment the gang is claimed to have used in its burglaries, police recovered “many hundreds” of bottles from the estates in question.

Yesterday, a French court found all 15 men involved guilty, with sentences ranging from €60,000 fines to four years in prison. William Allard, 53, and his nephew Yoann Gautrau, 27, were each sentenced to four years in prison.

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