Police X-ray alleged diamond thief
Published 21/02/2014 | 04:47
Australian police searching for a stolen 200,000 Australian dollar (£108,000) rare pink diamond have X-rayed a British tourist suspected to have swallowed it.
The diamond was snatched from a jewellery store in the northern Australia city of Cairns last weekend by a man who escaped on a bicycle.
Police were able to identify the suspect from closed-circuit TV and finger prints.
Police say they arrested a 29-year-old Briton yesterday as he attempted to board a flight to New Zealand from an airport in the southern city of Melbourne.
Senior Sergeant Greg Giles told Australian Broadcasting Corporation today that police have yet to recover the cut diamond, and suspected the tourist swallowed it. But X-rays were inconclusive.
The man is to appear in a Cairns court on theft charges.
He was identified by court records as Matthew Mark Luke Osborne, and was to be extradited from Melbourne in Victoria state and appear in a Cairns court tomorrow charged with theft, police said.
The diamond's owner, Keith Bird, said police told him that the man had admitted stealing the diamond, and claimed to have swallowed it as he prepared to board the flight from Melbourne.
He said Western Australia state police had the suspect's fingerprints recorded for a traffic offence.
But Mr Bird, owner of the Diamond Gallery in Cairns, doubts the diamond is inside him.
"If he thought he'd got away with it, why would you sit at the Melbourne airport and swallow it, and if you have to go to the loo on a flight to New Zealand? That would be a bit dangerous," Mr Bird said.
"If he's not going to confess where the stone is, he's going to do some serious time," he added.
Despite the hefty price tag, the diamond is only 0.31 carat with a diameter of 4.3 millimeters (11/64 of an inch). The value of pink diamonds from Australia's Argyle Diamond Mine is based more on colour than size.
Mr Bird said the stolen diamond was insured for 200,000 Australian dollars, but he had been asking for 250,000 Australian dollars (£135,000).