Hampstead school iPad theft case collapses after head fails to turn up at court

PUBLISHED: 08:00 30 July 2015 | UPDATED: 15:46 30 July 2015

Henrique Coceicao walked free from court yesterday. Picture: Polly Hancock

Henrique Coceicao walked free from court yesterday. Picture: Polly Hancock


A man charged with stealing £4,600 worth of iPads from a primary school has walked free from court smiling after events which saw a headteacher fail to turn up to give key evidence – because he was holidaying in Sri Lanka.

Fitzjohn's headteacher Rob Earrey said he had told the CPS of his holiday. Picture: Nigel SuttonFitzjohn's headteacher Rob Earrey said he had told the CPS of his holiday. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Henrique Coceicao, a Portuguese national living in Hampden Road, Hornsey, was accused of stealing 14 iPads from Fitzjohn’s Primary School in Hampstead over December and January while an employee for the school.

Pleading not guilty to the charges on March 30, the 22-year-old appeared at Highbury Magistrates Court with his father yesterday, expecting to face trial.

But after the primary school’s headteacher, Rob Earrey, failed to turn up to give key evidence, the prosecution chose not to submit any evidence against Mr Coceicao and a judge gave a verdict of not guilty.

The prosecution later discovered Mr Earrey was on holiday in Sri Lanka.

Mr Coceicao, who could not speak English, left the court with a smile on his face after being told the verdict by an interpreter.

The court in the end had to pay him £10 to cover his travel.

The CPS has been contacted for a statement as it is not clear why an adjournment of the trial was not sought.

The case had seen earlier blunders by the CPS which led to an hour of the court’s time wasted because it had not provided full disclosure of all the evidence to the defence – something the judge said should have been done back in April.

The headteacher has subsequently told the Ham&High he had informed the CPS of his holiday and that it in turn had said it would seek an adjournment – something it never did.

It comes as entirely separate cases saw thousands of pounds worth of iPads stolen from three other primary schools in Camden last year, putting pressure on police to catch the culprits.

UPDATE: This story has been updated here.

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

I live in the north west of London in the United Kingdom. Like the rest of the country, I have been looking on in bewilderment at the Brexit deal while politicians on both sides of the house vie for political supremacy. Divisions in government make for good news headlines but do nothing for the public’s confidence in its institutions.

Fri, 16:24

Normally we celebrate one business of the week – but today we’ve got three!

Fri, 15:17

A Routemaster bus will take 72 passengers on a journey through Greek Cypriot history, via Camden and Holloway, on Sunday.

Fri, 12:12

The latest twist in the saga of a Hampstead landlord who refuses to pay a controversial levy saw him bring a top barrister to his court hearing.

Fri, 09:48

Opponents of the 100 Avenue Road development suffered a major blow last night as Camden voted through a controversial plan that will funnel seven lorries a day through residential streets in Swiss Cottage.

Thu, 17:35

The families left homeless by the fire that destroyed the upper floors of Willow House in East Finchley last week said Barnet Council treated them “like ants to be squashed” in the immediate aftermath of the fire.

Thu, 12:44

The Temple Fortune community was celebrating on Tuesday after Barnet’s Finchley and Golders Green planning committee unanimously rejected plans to build housing on the old Templars Tennis Club.

Thu, 12:10

Tens of thousands of pounds, weapons and drugs were seized after searching a garage in the Peckwater Estate on Tuesday morning.


Looking to get your child interested in a sport? Allianz Park, home to rugby union team Saracens, welcomes people of all ages to join their family of supporters and discover how their core values Honesty, Discipline, Humility and Work Rate underpin everything they do off and on the pitch.

As part of a major refurb, the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale has renamed its three new-look function rooms to reflect the geography and rich history of the area. The largest, perfect for weddings and large meetings, is named after a Hampstead subterranean river, The Westbourne.

Londoners seeking high quality houses for sale within easy commuting distance of the capital are being advised to look north to St Albans’ prestigious Gabriel Square development.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now