Lorry driver accused of stealing nearly 3,000 PlayStation 4 Slims ‘interfered with tachograph’, court hears

The consoles had been due to leave the Port of Felixstowe for Saudi Arabia Picture: MIKE PAGE

The consoles had been due to leave the Port of Felixstowe for Saudi Arabia Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

A lorry driver accused of stealing a container of brand new PlayStation 4 Slim game consoles bound for the Port of Felixstowe had interfered with the tachograph on his vehicle, it has been alleged.

Christopher Champion was stopped by police near Bury St Edmunds on August 23 2016 and arrested on suspicion of theft, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

When his lorry was examined it was found to have a magnet fitted to the tachograph to stop it working, said David Matthew, prosecuting.

“It’s pretty clear that Christopher Champion knew how to disable the tachograph,” claimed Mr Matthews.

It has been alleged that Champion delivered 2,970 PlayStation 4 Slim video game consoles, worth £769,000, to his co-defendant Robert Ratcliff at a location near Basildon between picking up the consignment from a depot in Wellingborough and arriving at Felixstowe on the evening of August 16.

Mr Matthew said a tachograph recording on Champion’s lorry appeared to show the lorry was stationary between 4.58pm and 10.16pm on August 16, during which time Champion claimed to have been in a lay-by on the edge of Felixstowe after suffering a puncture.

“That was not at all the case,” said Mr Matthew.

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He said that when Champion’s lorry was examined there was no sign of repair to any of the tyres or that any of the wheels had been changed.

Champion, Ratcliff and four other men are accused of stealing or handling 2,970 PlayStation 4 Slim video game consoles which were due to have been shipped to the Middle East in the summer of 2016.

The alleged theft is said to have taken place a month before Sony was to unveil the new version of the console in Saudi Arabia.

Champion, 41, of Upland Road, St Helens, in Merseyside, and Ratcliff, 47, of Fairfield Approach, Wraysbury, Berkshire, have denied stealing the game consoles which were scheduled to arrive in Jeddah before the official release date on September 16.

The pair are have also denied handling stolen goods, along with Paul Bentham, 57, of Buckshaw Village, Chorley, Lancashire; Darren Brown, 37, of Orchard Lane, Leigh, Lancashire; Keith Williams, 45, of Napier Drive, Horwich, Bolton and Stephen Woods, 33, of Scot Lane, Wigan.

Bentham and Williams have also denied handling 120 stolen 32-inch Phillips LED televisions between September 5 and 20, 2016.

A seventh man, David Hilton, 50, is accused of being part of the same conspiracy, but has been deemed unfit to currently stand trial.

The trial continues.

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