A CROOKED antiques dealer has been jailed for four years for handling jewellery stolen from the home of murdered businessman Guy Hedger.

Jamie Evans "panicked" and stashed items worth tens of thousands of pounds in a Royal Mail post box in Western Avenue, Bournemouth after Mr Hedger was gunned down in his own home in the early hours of April 30 2017.

Evans, 38 and of Headswell Avenue, Bournemouth runs dealership The Antiques Vineyard in Pokesdown. He was sentenced at Winchester Crown Court yesterday after admitting two counts of handling stolen goods and one of possessing an offensive weapon.

Evans was first spoken to by police in June 2017 in relation to his phone contact with the suspects Helen and Scott Keeping, who were later acquitted of all charges against them. He said he didn't know them well, but police discovered he had given Mrs Keeping away at the couple's wedding.

The following month, charity Crimestoppers offered a £10,000 reward for the recovery of the shotgun used and the return of jewellery with sentimental value.

Two days later, on July 26 2017, police were informed a jiffy bag marked ‘police’ and containing jewellery from the burglary had been placed inside a post box.

The bag contained five rings, two bracelets, a gold necklace and a Cartier watch – worth an estimated £27,705 – stolen from Mr Hedger’s home. Jewellery from a burglary in Keighley Avenue, Broadstone on April 29 2017 was also inside.

Evans’ DNA was found on a Pandora bracelet stolen from Mr Hedger’s house. The defendant was arrested and released under investigation in August 2017. Two mobile phones and a tablet were seized from his home. One of the mobiles – an old Nokia-style phone – was found in the microwave. The Crimestoppers number was in the phone's call log.

The recording of the call to Crimestoppers, as well as the number used, have not been provided to police as the charity protects caller anonymity.

An asp baton was also seized.

The defendant told officers he bought the jewellery for £150 on May 1 2017, believing he would be able to make a reasonable profit. His shop deals in furniture and miscellany, rather than jewellery.

He told officers he didn’t realise where the items had come from until he saw a Daily Echo article about the Crimestoppers reward. He then “panicked” and returned them to police, he said.

Sentencing Evans, Judge Keith Cutler said: “Those individuals involved in selling antiques and other items of a second-hand nature must be over-vigilant to keep on the right side of the law.

“There may be fewer burglaries taking place if there was no one willing to sell or dispose of items from these burglaries.”

Detective Chief Inspector Sarah Derbyshire of Dorset Police said the reward offered was the "catalyst that motivated Evans".

“It wasn't until the reward was publicised that Evans made any effort to return the jewellery that had been stolen," she said.

“Without people acting as receivers, there would be no gain for those people committing burglaries. Offences of handling will be fully investigated and offenders like Evans will be brought to justice.”