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Last Updated: Monday, 9 June, 2003, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
Romance alibi of plane theft accused
Crate where defendant allegedly hid
A man fell from the box when it was dropped at Heathrow Airport
A man accused of trying to steal 1.5m from a plane at Heathrow has said he was having a holiday romance in Africa when the bungled theft happened.

Rawson Watson, from Kent, is accused of trying to steal the money while hiding in the hold of a plane from Spain to Heathrow in January 2001.

But he told the Old Bailey on Monday he was having "a very exciting holiday" on the West African coast at the time.

The theft was uncovered when baggage handlers dropped a box on the runway at Heathrow while unpacking the luggage from the British Airways Boeing 767 from Madrid.

The lid came off the box and a man fell out, who immediately ran from the scene and escaped.

As with any holiday, you go down to the beach a lot of the time, you spend a lot of time with a girl.
Defendant Rawson Watson
Mr Watson, 37, of Marlborough Road in Gillingham, is accused of stowing away in the luggage hold when the plane flew to Spain, and hiding in the lining.

The prosecution says he made two boxes on route, one to hide in and a smaller one to hold 1.5m in Spanish pesetas, which were loaded on board in Madrid.

His DNA was found in the hold of the plane, the court was told.

Mr Watson has denied attempting to steal the money and causing a fire hazard by damaging the plane.

He told the jury on Monday he could not have been in the plane because he was backpacking was in Togo at the time.

Lost holiday snaps

Asked to give details of his trip, he said he spent a lot of time on the beach with a woman called Louisa Streatham.

He said: "I would say it was a very exciting holiday.

"As with any holiday, you go down to the beach a lot of the time, you spend a lot of time with a girl.

"It was a holiday romance."

He told the court he had since lost Miss Streatham's phone number and lost his holiday photographs when moving house.

Mr Watson also said he could not explain how his DNA was found in the plane and denied claims he had tampered with his passport in an attempt to make it look like he was in Togo for longer than he really was.

The trial continues.

Stowaway 'was in Africa'
04 Jun 03  |  Kent
Jury shown stowaway box
03 Jun 03  |  Kent

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