Former Met chief tells of `horror' at arrest for theft

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The Independent Online
BY SIMON MIDGLEY Wyn Jones, a former Assistant Commissioner in the Metropolitan Police, denied yesterday that he stole food and wine from a branch of Marks & Spencer. Mr Jones had £1,700 in cash, having just returned from Cheltenham races, when he was stopped by store detectives outside Marks & Spencer in Chelsea, London, last March. He told Southwark Crown Court yesterday: "I have never stolen anything in my life."

He said he was "shocked and horrified" to have been brought back into the store by a detective. "I knew perfectly well I had done nothing wrong," he said.

Richard McGregor-Johnson, for the prosecution, told the court that on Friday 18 March, a store detective had seen Mr Jones pushing a trolley containing two Marks & Spencer bags around the food department. The detective's suspicions had been aroused, Mr McGregor-Johnson said, when he saw Mr Jones putting a packet of chicken breasts into one of the bags. The detective then saw the defendant place a piece of cheese in one of the bags and two bottles of red wine, a Rioja and a Chateauneuf du Pape.

Mr McGregor-Johnson said Mr Jones then pushed the trolley through the store to the front entrance and left, carrying the two bags, without paying for these items.

The store detective asked Mr Jones to return to the store, where a manager compared the items in the bags with an itemised till receipt. The receipt did not include any record of the cheese, wine or chicken. The police were called and Mr Jones was later charged.

When the defendant was interviewed in the store, he allegedly said: "I paid for the goods at a different checkout." At one point the defendant asked if he could visit the lavatory. Patrick Riley, the detective, said Mr Jones tried to run away into a stock room, but the detective and a security guard grabbed him.

Jeremy Donne, for the defence, said Mr Jones was clearly very agitated and upset.

Mr Jones, under cross examination, said he had bought the items at two or three tills. At first he had only intended buying fruit but seeing the store also sold vegetables he decided to buy these as well and then returned to buy the remainder of the groceries he needed for a dinner party.

Mr Jones said that earlier he had also visited the Marble Arch and High Street Kensington branches of Marks & Spencer. It was possible he had bought some groceries at these two stores. "I am still uncertain of the precise sequence of events and the combination of food I bought at any particular time," he told the court.

Mr Jones and his wife have a charge account with Marks & Spencer. Over two years, including early 1994, they spent £4,400 using this account.

Mr Jones retired from the Met in December 1993.

The trial continues today.