Trevor Francis's son denies burglary at Lee Hendrie's cottage

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The son of ex-football star Trevor Francis, accused of burgling a house, has told a court he left his fingerprints there during a work visit.

James Francis, 26, denies burgling a cottage at the £1.6m mansion home of ex-Aston Villa footballer Lee Hendrie in Rowington, Warwickshire, in 2011.

He allegedly stole designer ladies' shoes, and souvenir football shirts.

He told Warwick Crown Court he had visited Mr Hendrie's home to give him a quote for cleaning the property.

The prosecution alleges that Mr Francis broke in while Mr Hendrie and his wife were on holiday in Majorca between 18 July and 3 August 2011.

The court heard his fingerprints had been found on a piece of cardboard and a door at the unoccupied cottage.

'Full of clutter'

Giving evidence in his defence, Mr Francis said he had been inside the house on 26 May 2011 after being asked to give a cleaning quote.

He said that his parents had previously lived in one of two cottages adjoining the mansion, named Finwood Lawn, so he "knew there were outbuildings" he also needed to inspect.

He said when he got to the cottage it was "heavily packed up with boxes".

"It was full of clutter, on the floor, which I had to move to navigate a path," he said.

"There would have been many things I touched to navigate myself around...there were clothes on the floor and things like that.

"That is the only reason I can think of why my fingerprints would have been on there."

Mr Francis told the jury he had not been back to Finwood House since that day.

'Always polite'

Trevor Francis said he would easily have been able to obtain signed football shirts from Premier League clubs.

He said: "If I needed a shirt of any England player, it wouldn't be a problem."

Asked whether James had ever been in any sort of trouble, the 59-year-old replied: "Both my boys were brought up what I would consider to be the correct way - with strong discipline.

"I was quite strict with them, they were always polite, well-mannered, and always knew when to say please and thank you.

"I have known Lee Hendrie for a long, long time and that's what makes it so extraordinary."

James Francis said he and his parents had lived in one of two cottages adjoining the mansion when it was owned by Olympic gold-medallist Nick Skelton.

In a statement read to the jury, the showjumper said of James Francis: "He's an honest and a well-mannered young man who was very respectful in every way whilst he stayed at my property."

The trial continues.

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