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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

Archant

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.

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