Thief wore Cartier watch before jury

The wife of an airline pilot stole a laptop belonging to a Telford businessman – and then told a court she could not afford to compensate him despite parading her expensive Luis Vuitton bag and £7,000 Cartier watch in front of the jury.

Hire car firm sales assistant Jaswinder Kaur Howe, took Ashley Cookson’s laptop after he accidentally left it behind when he returned a vehicle at Birmingham Airport in November 2011.

Howe, of Kendrick Close, Solihull, was convicted of theft at Warwick Crown Court last December and was ordered to pay almost £7,500 compensation to Mr Cookson.

Her case was back in court again yesterday as her barrister, Christopher Gibbons, tried in vain to persuade Court of Appeal judges that she does not have the money to pay off the debt.

He said that, despite her husband’s lucrative career, Howe is a poor housewife who lost her part-time job as a result of the crime and does not have the means to compensate the businessman.

But rejecting her appeal, Lord Justice Treacy said Howe’s problem was that she had flaunted her wealth in front of the jury at Warwick Crown Court and made no attempt to prove she has no money. “She can sell her Cartier watch,” he said.

Sentencing in February, Judge Alan Parker said Howe had not stolen the holdall containing the laptop out of greed, but out of spite and vindictiveness towards the Telford businessman’s wife who had made calls to the Avis office to recover the bag. Howe repeatedly told her she could not leave the office to check because there were no other staff there.

However, CCTV footage showed her going to the car left by Mr Cookson, removing the holdall and putting it into another car. The computer containing expensive medical software, was never recovered. Howe, who was also ordered to do 150 hours’ unpaid community work, is also liable for £3,892 of prosecution costs.