Pair freed after Kensit misses photo theft trial

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The Independent Online

The trial of two men accused of stealing semi-naked photographs of the actress Patsy Kensit collapsed yesterday when she failed to appear in court as a prosecution witness.

The case was thrown out when the judge learnt Ms Kensit had refused to interrupt filming in Canada to give evidence. Sandy Canavan, for the prosecution, said Ms Kensit, 33, was willing to give evidence but "significant" costs meant she could not abandon filming.

Judge Martyn Zeidman refused to adjourn the trial, which had already been put off twice and was estimated to have cost taxpayers up to £50,000.He directed that Michael Sulkin and Howard Kayman be found not guilty of taking the photographs from the star's home after the prosecution offered no evidence. Although it was "a very serious allegation" which could have led to a prison sentence if the men were convicted, he said it would be unfair to impose another delay on the defendants' chance to clear their names.

A statement released by Ms Kensit's agent said the actress was "very disappointed" by the decision. She had accepted the lead role in a film after the trial date was set and the shooting schedule "precluded" her return.

Mr Sulkin, 39, from Swiss Cottage, north London and Mr Kayman, 34, from Stanmore, north-west London, were arrested in August last year. They were alleged to have stolen three photographs from the home Ms Kensit used to share with her former husband, the Oasis singer Liam Gallagher, in Primrose Hill, north London.They said they found the photographs near a rubbish bin in the street.