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Mary Berry pleads guilty to trying to defraud Maidstone shop

By Claire McWethy

Her namesake might be a wholesome TV baker, but it was more a case of The Great British Fake Off when Headcorn fraudster Mary Berry appeared in court.

The 22-year-old, of The Meadows in Lenham Road, had tried to obtain a £60 bottle of Paco Rabanne perfume from House of Fraser in a half-baked scam using counterfeit gift vouchers.

Prosecutor James Nichols explained how, not duped by the homemade coupons, the sales assistant tested them with a water stamp and found them to be made out of paper.

The House of Fraser store in Fremlin Walk, where the 22-year-old tried to tried to obtain perfume using forged gift vouchers
The House of Fraser store in Fremlin Walk, where the 22-year-old tried to tried to obtain perfume using forged gift vouchers

After being rumbled, Berry left the department store, in Maidstone’s Fremlin Walk, and was followed to the toilet of a nearby restaurant by security guards.

There she flushed away the evidence before being arrested.

She did not comment in her police interview but later pleaded guilty to the fraud, which took place on December 2.

Defence lawyer Adrian Crossley described the vouchers as “crude” and “easily detected”, and said the fraud involved a low level of sophistication.

He explained she had not had much in the way of schooling, adding: “She knows now how serious this is.”

At Maidstone Magistrates’ Court, she received a conditional discharge, which will be in place for two years, and was ordered to pay a £20 victim surcharge.

TV baker Mary Berry
TV baker Mary Berry

The magistrates heard she had one previous conviction for making off without payment in 2014.

Chairman of the bench Dave Mann told Berry: “You need to start getting a grip and start acting like an adult.

“This really is the last-chance saloon. You have two options: take a step forward or to go into custody.”

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