Sebastiano Magnanini
Sebastiano Magnanini was last seen in the area two days before his corpse was pulled from Regent's CanalMet Police

Three men have pleaded guilty to offences relating to the death of a convicted Italian art thief found tied to a shopping trolley in a canal. The decomposing body of carpenter Sebastiano Magnanini, 46, was found in Regent's Canal on the morning of 24 September.

Pulled from the water after being spotted by a member of the public, mystery still surrounds the circumstances of his death. He was last seen alive on 22 September as he travelled into central London on public transport.

On Tuesday (5 January), Paul Williams, 61, of no fixed abode, and Michael Walsh, 41, of Wharfdale Road, Islington, pleaded guilty to preventing the lawful burial of his body. Walsh and a third man, Daniel Hastie, 22, of no fixed abode, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

All three admitted the offences at Blackfriars Crown Court. They will be sentenced at the same court on 5 February.

A post-mortem examination on 25 September was inconclusive and the cause of Magnanini's death remains unknown. Further toxicology tests are currently taking place and Scotland Yard says enquiries into the circumstances of his death are still underway.

Magnanini, originally from Italy, had been living and working in south London. Italian newspaper La Repubblica said he was jailed for 18 months in 1998 for the theft of a painting in 1993. The piece, The Education Of The Virgin by 18th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, was reportedly worth 2bn lire at the time.