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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 June, 2003, 20:13 GMT 21:13 UK
Stowaway 'was in Africa'
Crate where defendant allegedly hid
The box was dropped by cargo handlers at Heathrow Airport
A man accused of trying to steal 1.5m from a plane by stowing inside the hold has produced a passport showing he was in Africa at the time.

Rawson Watson, 37, is alleged to have stowed away in the cargo hold of a British Airways jet.

The Old Bailey had heard that the man intended to smuggle himself and 1.5m in Spanish pesetas off the plane in hurriedly constructed boxes.

But he was discovered when cargo handlers at Heathrow Airport dropped the box in which he was hiding, the prosecution claimed.

Backpacking in Africa

Mr Watson, of Marlborough Road, Gillingham, Kent, denies attempting to steal the money and damaging the aircraft on 26 January 2000.

He claims he was backpacking in Africa at the time but the prosecution told the jury he did not have a valid passport for the period.

Shaheem Hussain, a Passport Agency official, produced records showing Mr Watson's passport had expired in 1998.

A toolkit found in the hold of the plane was shown to jurors

But when the defence produced the deleted passport, Miss Hussain agreed it appeared to have been "exceptionally extended" from September 1999 to September 2001.

Stamps showing entry to the Republic of Togo on 16 January, 2000 and exit prior to 22 April, 2000 were pointed out to her.

The jury also spent several minutes looking at the passport.

But DNA expert David Chapman told the court he had examined samples of blood and a water bottle found on the 767 jet.

He estimated the chance of the DNA profile not belonging to Mr Watson as one billion to one.

The trial continues.




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