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That's another fine mess you've got me into: Stolen statue of Stan Laurel turns up after seven years with diary of adventures

The life-size statue of the comedian, which vanished from an Oban hotel in 2004, mysteriously returned this week.

Stan Laurel: That's another fine mess you've got me into.

A life-size statue of comedian Stan Laurel, stolen from a Scots hotel seven years ago, has been returned - along with a diary of his adventures.

The six-foot-tall statue was stolen from Oban's Rowantree Hotel in 2004 and despite its owners putting up a £1000 reward for its return, the mascot was never seen again.

Staff at the hotel were stunned on Wednesday when the statue appeared at the back door, with a spoof diary round his neck.

The spoof claims he only "popped out for a loaf", and reveals his adventures, including pictures of him with the Queen, Nelson Mandela, the Spanish World Cup winning team, Barack Obama and even Colonel Gaddafi.

The cover reads: "Ah is no awa tae bide awa, ah wis aye cumin back tae see ye".

Rowantree Hotel office manager Michael Durkin, 35, who was working at the hotel in 2004 when Stan was stolen, said: "Stan went missing seven years ago, overnight.

"Everyone was annoyed and pretty embarrassed that a six-foot statue could have been taken from the reception without anyone noticing.

"It was reported to the police and Gilbert MacKechnie, who owned the hotel at the time, offered a £1000 reward for his safe return.

"The hotel was full the night he was pinched and we thought a stag party may have been responsible, but we never got to the bottom of the mystery and we'd given up hope of seeing Stan again.

"Then, I was coming in to work last Wednesday and saw him standing at the door to the back car park. I couldn't believe my eyes and just burst out laughing.

"A diary was tied round his neck and his photo superimposed with famous people around the world - the Queen and Nelson Mandela, the Spanish World Cup winners and Barack Obama, among others.

"I can see the funny side now. Someone has obviously gone to a lot of trouble to play this prank and it's brought a smile to my face."

The opening diary entry explains: "What can I say? I went out for a loaf. In 2004 I was a wanted man. £1000 was offered for information about my whereabouts. By then I was at the North Pole and it was more hassle than it was worth for the Eskimos to get me back to Oban."

Another entry reads: "Before I left Oz I sent Nelson Mandela a postcard. I knew it was a long shot, the guy had retired from public life and was trying to chill out during his twilight years."

Mr Durkin said: "The whole thing had become a bit of an urban legend and we would always tell the story to new staff members because they didn't believe people would steal things as large as that.

"I don't think he's been very far though. I think whoever took Stan did so for a prank, but when the police became involved decided to keep a low profile.

"I don't think it was a local person - Oban is a small town and someone would have found out. But he's been in Scotland I'm sure. Some of the diary is written in Scots."

Stan has been returned to the Rowantree's reception for the time being.

As his final diary entry reads: "It will be a while before I go out for a loaf again."

Mr Durkin also revealed that a camera is watching him round the clock to prevent him disappearing on any more travels.

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