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Craig Smith, from Rochester, walks free from Maidstone Magistrates' Court after 'scandalous' CPS mishap

A 45-year-old man accused of stealing thousands of pounds worth of meat has walked free from court after a "scandalous" CPS error.

Craig Smith, of Hollywood Lane, Wainscott, had been charged with 39 thefts at shops in Snodland, Kings Hill, Maidstone and Chatham and was due to stand trial today.

As he took to the dock at Maidstone Magistrates' Court it was revealed that an administrative error had been made by the Crown Prosecution Service and no evidence was offered.

Maidstone Magistrates Court STOCK. Picture: Matthew Walker (2894838)
Maidstone Magistrates Court STOCK. Picture: Matthew Walker (2894838)

Twenty-five-year-old Toni Cooney, also of Hollywood Lane, admitted 38 counts of theft and was jailed for 360 days for her role.

Prosecutor Paul Roach said that a mistake during an earlier hearing had a "ripple effect" on proceedings and told the bench Mr Smith would no longer face any charges.

Chairman of the bench Alvin Shaw described the mishap as "scandalous" and expressed his disappointment at the lack of a trial taking place.

Mr Smith had also been accused of making off without paying for fuel on four occasions from a petrol station in Strood.

The long list of charges, relating to offences between April and August, included huge amounts of meat being taken from shops including Marks and Spencer in Snodland.

One charge related to the theft of £314 worth of razor blades and electric toothbrushes from the Coop supermarket in Chatham.

A CPS spokesperson said: “It is clear that our processes did not work in the way they should have done in this case, which led to the charges being dropped.

"We will be undertaking a thorough investigation of what happened and ensuring that lessons are learnt.”

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