Father and son deny Fortnum & Mason 'brazen champagne theft'

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Douglas and Jack Vallender deny stealing £348 worth champagne from Fortnum & Mason

A father and son carried out a "brazen" theft from Fortnum & Mason by simply walking out of the store with expensive champagne, a court has been told.

Douglas, 53, and Jack Vallender, 18, both of St Ives, Cornwall, are accused of stealing eight bottles using a branded bag from the high-end department store.

Southwark Crown court heard £348 worth of champagne was taken in the "thought out and planned" theft.

Both deny the theft on 1 May 2017.

After filling their bag with champagne the defendants "did an about turn" and walked out of the store in London's West End, prosecutor James Cartwright told the court.

"They thought that 'if we are brazen and do it in the open no-one is going to notice - they will see us with a bag and think we have bought it'," he said.

"Unfortunately Fortnum & Mason have a comprehensive security camera in the store."

'Forgot to pay'

The pair were stopped a short distance down the road as they walked towards Piccadilly Circus and taken back while police were called.

The Vallenders later told police they had forgotten to pay for items.

But Mr Cartwright told the court: "You do not forget eight bottles of champagne in a heavy bag and lug it out of a store."

Security guard Deepak Singh told the court: "In my opinion I thought they were walking quickly. I thought they were suspicious and that's why I decided to follow them."

The trial continues.

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