Six men accused of stealing more than £750,000 worth of PS4s

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

Six men have gone on trial for taking part in the alleged theft and handling of almost a million pounds of electronics bound for the Port of Felixstowe on a lorry.

The group are accused of stealing or handling 2,970 PlayStation 4 Slim video game consoles due to be shipped to the Middle East in the summer of 2016.

The alleged theft was worth an estimated £769,230, Ipswich Crown Court heard on Monday.

It was said to have taken place a month before Sony was to unveil the new version of the console in Saudi Arabia, according to prosecutor David Matthew.

Opening the trial, he accused lorry driver Christopher Champion of delivering the goods to codefendant Robert Ratcliff at a location near Basildon, between picking up the container from a depot in Wellingborough and arriving at the port on the evening of August 16.

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Mr Matthew said the allegedly stolen consoles were among a shipment of 3,240, packed in boxes of three and loaded on 24 pallets.

Champion, 41, of Upland Road, St Helens, in Merseyside, and Ratcliff, 47, of Fairfield Approach, Wraysbury, Berkshire, are charged with stealing the items, each valued at £259 and scheduled to arrive in Jeddah before the official release date on September 16.

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

Bentham and Williams are separately charged with handling 120 stolen 32-inch Phillips LED televisions between September 5 and 20, 2016.

Mr Matthew said a tachograph recording appeared to show the lorry stationary between 4.58pm and 10.16pm, during which time, he told the court, 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, who claimed the prosecution’s case would be “illuminated” by the activity of mobile phones he alleged were used by all defendants.

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

Mr Matthew will conclude his opening for the prosecution on Tuesday.

All defendants deny the charges.

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