Page last updated at 16:08 GMT, Monday, 2 November 2009

TV chef told of theft accomplices

Tom Baisden (back left) and Jamie Oliver (front right)
Tom Baisden appeared on TV show Jamie's Chef with the celebrity

A man who trained as a chef for a television programme told police he and three others stole millions of pounds of designer goods, a court has heard.

Tom Baisden was the "inside man" during a staged robbery of Cartier merchandise from Southend airport in 2001.

Baisden, 28, of Thundersley, Essex, admits theft and conspiracy to steal and awaits sentence, a jury heard.

His three alleged accomplices deny any wrongdoing and have gone on trial at Basildon Crown Court.

Confessed to police

Prosecutor Chris Paxton said the gang escaped with watches, keyrings, pins, sunglasses and belts.

Baisden, who was part of Jamie Oliver's Fifteen restaurant project in 2007, confessed to the crime last year and said he had carried out the pretend raid with three others.

He said they were nurse Gary Maughan, 43, of Hackney, east London, and unemployed brothers Joseph Xenofondos, 35, of Loughton, Essex, and 39-year-old Marios Xenofondos, 39, of Stoke Newington, north London.

Mr Maughan denies conspiring to steal and handling stolen goods.

The Xenofondos brothers both deny conspiring to steal.

Mr Paxton told the court that Mr Maughan is Baisden's cousin and the Xenofondos brothers were associates of Mr Maughan.

'Inside knowledge'

He told the jury Baisden had been working in a warehouse at Southend airport which handled freight - including shipments of Cartier goods.

The gang staged the theft using Baisden's inside knowledge, said Mr Paxton.

Goods had been loaded on to a lorry when Baisden was alone at the warehouse.

He had then been beaten and tied up and made to look like a victim, jurors were told.

Detectives investigated but - despite arresting and questioning Baisden - brought no charges.

The four men had "enjoyed the fruits of their crime" for several years and Mr Maughan had moved to Barbados, said Mr Paxton.

Then, in May 2008, Baisden had done an "extraordinary thing" by telephoning Essex police and telling them who had committed the crime, he added.

Mr Paxton told jurors that Baisden, who admitted the charges against him at a court hearing last year, could be called to give evidence during the trial.

Baisden finished runner-up on the Channel 4 show and planned to set up his own business with a fellow contestant.

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