Jamie Oliver chef jailed after theft confession

A chef who featured in a scheme set up by celebrity cook Jamie Oliver was today give a 25-month jail term after a judge heard how he was part of a gang which stole four million pounds worth of Cartier jewellery from an airport warehouse.

Tom Baisden, 28, of Thundersley, Essex, was the "inside man" as the gang staged a robbery in Southend, Essex, in May 2001 and escaped with watches, keyrings, pins, sunglasses and belts, Southend Crown Court heard.

Baisden came forward to confess his crime to detectives seven years later - after taking part in Oliver's "Fifteen" scheme - and admitted theft, conspiracy to steal and perverting the course of justice, the court was told.

In December, two other gang members were jailed after jurors convicted them of taking part in the raid following a trial.

Baisden's cousin Gary Maughan, a 43-year-old nurse from Hackney, east London, was given a six-year term after being convicted of conspiracy to steal and handling stolen goods. He had denied any offence.

Joseph Xenofondos, 35, of Loughton, Essex, was given a five-year term after being found guilty of conspiracy to steal. He had also denied any offence.

Baisden gave evidence for the prosecution at the trial.

Prosecutor Chris Paxton told jurors that Baisden featured in "Fifteen" - a scheme set up to help disadvantaged people "turn their lives around" - in 2004 and had gone on to making a living from cooking.

Police said Baisden's experiences on the scheme had been instrumental in his decision to come clean.

Prosecutors said Baisden had been working at the warehouse in 2001 and was the "inside man" on the raid. They said his share of the spoils had been £100,000. Hardly any of the jewellery had turned up.

The gang had taken advantage of lax security and made the raid look like a robbery by beating and tying Baisden, the court was told.

Detectives had investigated and questioned Baisden but no-one had been charged with any offence at the time.

The court heard that Baisden had been a teenage drug addict at the time of the raid.

James Scobie, for Baisden, today told the court his client was in danger because he had confessed and pointed the finger.

Mr Scobie said detectives would have been none the wiser without Baisden's confession and no-one would have been convicted.

"He genuinely felt great self-loathing for what he had done. He couldn't live with himself," said Mr Scobie.

"He is doing life because he will never be able to rest a single day without thinking if that knock on the door, that bang behind him is somebody about to even things up."

Judge John Lodge told Baisden: "There is little point in the most sophisticated and expensive security systems if you cannot trust the people who operate them. You abused that trust."

The judge said he had taken into account the help Baisden had given detectives and prosecutors in passing sentence.

He said he had considered suspending the sentence but did not think such a move "appropriate".

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