Hampstead pensioner went on unpaid fine dining spree during suspended sentence for £27,000 briefcase theft

George Hammond at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday. Picture: Ed Willcox

George Hammond at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday. Picture: Ed Willcox - Credit: central news

A Hampstead pensioner who went on a drink-fuelled spree of unpaid fine dining in some of London’s most luxurious hotels has escaped jail

Frederick Clifford Gross at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday. Picture: Javier Casado

Frederick Clifford Gross at Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday. Picture: Javier Casado - Credit: central news

This was despite breaching a previous sentence for drunkenly stealing £27,000 from a casino.

George Hammond, 70, and his partner-in-crime, Frederick Gross, 47, went on a champagne binge at a number of five-star hotels during a three-week period in April.

Targeting luxury hotels like The Dorchester in Park Lane and The Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge, the fun-loving pair would pretend to be guests before ordering hundreds of pounds worth of food and drink from the bar/restaurant and then leave without paying.

Gross was given a 12 month community order sentence at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on October 5 after he and Hammond pleaded guilty to four charges of making off without payment.

But Hammond, of Mansfield Road, Hampstead, was ordered to appear at Southwark Crown Court today after it emerged his fine dining spree took place while he was already serving a suspended sentence for theft.

He had been convicted in 2013 after awaking one morning to find in his possession a briefcase with £27,000 inside.

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It emerged he had taken the briefcase from a casino while on a drunken night out the previous evening.

Realising what he had done, he immediately returned the item to the casino but was still landed with a criminal conviction.

Today he was spared jail yet again by the judge.

Judge John Price handed him a 12 month suspended sentence for four charges of making off without payment.

This was after Hammond’s defence, Khalid Missouri, told the court the pensioner is a full-time carer for his brother, who suffers mental health issues, and that he is a recovering alcoholic receiving treatment for his binge drinking.

Mr Missouri added: “He cooks, cleans and washes for his brother. He will suffer if Hammond is sent to jail.”

The judge told Hammond: “I was seriously considering an immediate sentence of imprisonment. We share the same age. You have come really close. You should be grateful to [Mr Missouri].”

Hammond and Gross’s crimes were described in court as a deliberate spree over a period of time, deliberately targeting high-value venues to a total value of £765”.

Their fine dining only came to an end when Hammond accidentally left his spectacles at the restaurant in the London Hilton, where he and Gross had made off without paying a £249 bill.

Police then used the DNA seized from the pair of glasses, along with CCTV footage, to later arrest the pair.

Gross, 47, of Bury St. Edmunds, Suffolk, had been handed a 12-month community order, including 100 hours unpaid work and a 12-month ban from entering any of the four hotels he scammed.

He was also ordered to pay £382 in compensation to the four hotels left out of pocket by his crimes. Hammond was ordered to pay £383 in compensation.

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