Essex woman 'concealed gold bars from £1m heist in bra'


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The Independent Online

An Essex woman stashed two gold bars from a £1 million Belgium heist in her bra, the Old Bailey heard today.

Local police struck gold when they searched Sheron Mancini, 53, as she drove towards a ferry for Britain, jurors were told.

Earlier, she left a hotel room in Antwerp where officers found more stolen gold and silver bars in October last year, said John Price, QC, prosecuting.

He added: "When Ms Mancini was searched there was found, concealed in her bra, two gold ingots.

"They were wrapped in a plastic bag with the Metalor label indicating that they were part of the stolen consignment sourced from Metalor in Switzerland.

"Ms Mancini could provide no sensible innocent explanation for its discovery so concealed in her underwear, for in truth, there could be none."

He said that grains of silver were found in a travel bag allegedly found in the car in which she had been driving with her partner David Gale.

Mr Price told the jury: "It is plain that she and Mr Gale were stopped on the return trip to the UK carrying with them marketing specimens/samples of the proceeds of the theft."

He said that although the bullion was stolen from a lorry in Belgium earlier in the month, it was a "British job".

Mr Price said: "The gold was in ingot form, gold bars the largest weighing 1kg, approximately the proportions of a large iPhone, but a bit fatter."

Six British men, including Gale, 55, and David Chatwood, 58, both of Essex, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.

Mancini, of Parkfields, Roydon, Harlow, Essex, John Corley, 52, of Tankerton Road, Whitstable, Kent, Kyriacos Nicolas, 30, of The Chine, Winchmore Hill, north London, and his father Andreas, 50, of Bankesmead, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, deny conspiring to launder the proceeds of crime.

Corley and Kyriacos, who along with his father was described as a wealthy businessman, also deny conspiracy to steal.

Judge Richard Hone told jurors that Samantha and Billie Faiers from The Only Way Is Essex television programme would be among well-known witnesses.

Mr Price said the lorry driver, Brian Mulcahy, had admitted being the inside man in the robbery.

He was found locked in the trailer of his lorry near Brussels on October 4 last year.

Mulcahy had told police he had been made to drive to a service area by a gunman with an eastern European accent whose armed accomplices took his cargo, the court heard.

But Mr Price said: "He had not been the victim of a robbery. He had been the inside man.

"Though this theft was executed in Belgium, no doubt as part of an attempt to conceal the origin and thus identity of those involved, this British lorry and its valuable bullion cargo had been targeted for this theft by British thieves.

"This was, if you will, a crime 'Made in Britain', carried out in Belgium and blamed on east Europeans."

Most of the bullion had been recovered on October 13 in a room at the Keyser Hotel in Antwerp and in a local apartment.

Mr Price said experts would have been essential to turn the gold and silver grain into money and assets.

But, he added, it was a plan "doomed to fail" because much of the time the crime was being planned, British police had been on to them.

Some conspirators had been photographed and recordings made of meetings, said Mr Price.