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Tom Baisden came forward to police to confess his involvement seven years after the heist at Southend rose gold cartier love bracelet Airport, a jury at Basildon Crown Court was told, after earning a place at Mr Oliver's restaurant.

Baisden, a former drug addict who retrained as a chef through Mr Oliver's Fifteen reality television programme, admitted to being the crucial "inside man" in the raid, and went on to become a prosecution witness after himself pleading guilty to theft, conspiracy to steal and perverting the course of justice.

His admission, praised by the prosecuting counsel Chris Paxton as an "extraordinary act of frankness and candour", enabled police to arrest his alleged accomplices: his cousin Gary Maughan, 43, of Hackney, east London; and brothers Joseph and Marios Xenofondos, 35 and 39, from Loughton, Essex.

Baisden, who also appeared in the reality television programme Jamie's Chef, described Mr Oliver as an "inspirational" cartier love bracelet yellow gold figure whose advice had been central to his decision to come forward finally.

The jury heard that the 28 year old, from Thundersley, Essex, missed out on a possible further collaboration with Mr Oliver last year as a result of his admission.

"If I wanted to be famous I would have taken the TV deal," he told the jury.

"I'm here because I wanted to confess to something so that I can live with my conscience."

The jury has heard how Baisden was working at Southend Airport in the customs warehouse in May 2001 when he helped organise the theft of a consignment of Cartier watches, jewellery and handbags.

He was tied up and badly beaten up during the staged raid and even gave a press conference afterwards appealing for help to catch the robbers.

Although police had suspicions that he was involved he was never charged until his confession last year.

The jury heard that Baisden had become close to Mr Oliver after taking part in the Fifteen restaurant project, in which formerly troubled young people are given the chance to make a living through cookery, in 2004.

He later competed for the chance to run his own restaurant, The Cock Inn, on another programme Jamie's Chef, although he lost out to his fellow contestant Aaron Craze.

The court heard that as a result of Oliver's positive influence, he went to the police.

"He used to say 'You're doing the right thing, you can't run away from things or hide from it'," Baisden told the court.

"He has been a very inspirational person for me, so I trusted his judgement."

The court heard how the plan was hatched after Baisden told Maughan how shipments from Cartier, sometimes contained jewels and goods worth up to 12 million, arrived at the airport every week.

Once his cousin knew about the arrangement, he planned the robbery "whether I liked it or not", he told the jury.

On the day of the raid he helped his alleged accomplices load haul before being handcuffed, bound, taped across the mouth and beaten by Joseph Xenofondos, the court was told.

Although he received 100,000 for his role, he said that he feared that he might be murdered to keep him quiet.

Baisden pleaded guilty to the charges at Chelmsford Crown Court in August last year Gary Maughan denies one count of conspiracy to steal and one cartier yellow gold love bracelet count of handling stolen goods while the Xenofondos brothers both deny charges of conspiracy to steal.

Created: Apr 19 · Admin: LOO