A Frodsham taxi driver has been cleared of handling more than £100,000 of luxury watches stolen from a footballer’s mansion.
Thieves ransacked the home of ex-Liverpool FC striker Djibril Cissé, stealing around £500,000 worth of jewellery last April.
But just days after the raid the footballer’s wife Jude says she was contacted by a taxi driver who claimed to be trying to help her, before returning eight watches worth around £100,000.
Yesterday taxi driver John Roberts, of Vicarage Farm, Formby, walked free from court after being cleared of handling the stolen watches on the first day of his trial at Chester Crown Court.
The Recorder of Chester Judge Elgan Edwards directed the jury to return a not guilty verdict after new evidence came to light during the 38-year-old’s trial.
Jude, who remains married to the former QPR striker despite their reported split in 2012, described how she returned from training with her four boys, aged 3-19, at Liverpool Football Academy to find the £2m Ridge Manor House ransacked on April 20 last year.
High value jewellery including several watches, bracelets and her engagement ring were stolen – many of which were never recovered, the jury heard.
Two men and one youth have already pleaded guilty to a range of offences in connection with the burglary and are due to be sentenced in the coming weeks.
During the trial, Jude, 38, described how, in the days following the break-in, she was contacted by her jeweller while she was holidaying with friends in Dubai and told to call avid Liverpool FC supporter Roberts, who had some information about her stolen jewellery.
After days of lengthy conversations with Roberts, he turned up at her mansion twice to deliver the watches, once handing Rolex’s wrapped in newspaper over to her mother before returning days later, when Jude returned from her trip, to hand over more in person.
They included a limited edition £20,000 Rolex, a rare Roger Dubuis worth around £50,000, a Franck Muller ladies watch worth £25,000 and a Cartier worth £25,000-£28,000 – which he handed over to her as they sat in his taxi on her drive.
Mrs Cissé, whose home comes with the title Lady and Lord of Frodsham, has lived at the house for almost nine years.