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Dying ex-mobster who stole Wizard of Oz ruby slippers is spared prison time

A dying man who admitted to stealing the ruby slippers Judy Garland wore in the Wizard of Oz has been spared a custodial sentence.

Terry Jon Martin, 76, pleaded guilty in October to theft of a major artwork.

His lawyers had asked for no time behind bars and struck a plea deal for time served.

Martin had said he stole the slippers so he could have "one last score" after an old mob associate convinced him to carry out the heist in 2005.

During a hearing on Monday in Duluth, Minnesota, the former mobster showed no emotion when the sentence was read and was unable to get up from his chair after the hearing ended, according to the Associated Press.

Martin - who has previously served time for several burglaries - is in hospice care with a life expectancy of six months, according to his lawyers.

The ruby slippers were taken from a Minnesota museum in 2005, when someone broke in through a window late at night.

Asking for leniency, Martin's defence lawyer Dane DeKrey wrote in a memo last week that his client had not committed any crimes in nearly 10 years after last being released from prison.

But an unidentified former mob associate had contacted him and tempted him to grab the slippers, which were on loan to the Judy Garland Museum in Grand Rapids, Minnesota.

"At first, Terry declined the invitation to participate in the heist. But old habits die hard, and the thought of a 'final score' kept him up at night," Mr DeKrey wrote.

Martin admitted to smashing the glass of the museum door and the display case with a hammer to take the slippers, which were insured for $1m (£788,000).

He said he had planned to try to sell the gems from the slippers, but got rid of them days later when an expert told him the rubies were actually made of glass.

Martin also claimed not to have seen the Wizard of Oz film, or to understand the cultural significance of the slippers.

He was not charged for the crime until 13 years later, when an FBI art crime team recovered the slippers in a sting operation after a man approached the insurer and said he could help get them back.

At least five pairs of ruby slippers worn by Garland are known to have survived the film production.