A former pastry chef and private investigator who denies receiving a small amount of stolen clothing – after more than $750,000 in samples were taken from the business premises of fashion designer Dame Trelise Cooper – is on trial, her lawyer claiming that she bought them from a friend.
“A lone hanger” was all that remained after the October 2020 burglary, which was a “kick in the guts” for Cooper’s 100 staff.
Kathy Yu-Jen Stephens’ trial began in Auckland District Court on Wednesday before a jury and Judge Nevin Dawson. She is accused of concealment.
A month after Trelise Cooper’s corporate headquarters was robbed by Nicholas Bush, police searched Stephens’ home where they found designer clothing, Crown prosecutor Frances Gourlay told the jury.
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Two jackets were found hanging on a door, another dress in a laundry basket and a suitcase full of clothes in a child’s room.
A package with an overseas address was also found in Stephens’ car, with clothes inside.
Because of what police found at Stephens’ home, they arrested her, Gourlay said.
The prosecutor argued that Stephens received the items knowing they were stolen, or if she did not know they were stolen, she was reckless in receiving them.
“It would be clear to anyone [the stolen items] were suspicious,” Gourlay said.
Defense attorney Natasha Murden said Stephens bought the clothes from a friend.
“It never even occurred to him that these were stolen items,” Murden said.
Nicholas James Bush, who stole $750,000 worth of the clothes, has already been sentenced to two years and five months in prison.
On Monday, his accomplice – a florist named Andrea Nicole Edwards, who helped hide clothes in a storage unit – admitted receiving stolen goods and will be sentenced in April.
Bush broke into the designer’s showroom in Epsom on October 17, 2020 by breaking down the service door. He took about 1500 dresses.
According to court documents seen by Things, on November 6, Edwards called a cab to pick her and Bush up from town.
When the taxi arrived, Edwards and Bush loaded a number of suitcases into the trunk, before asking the driver to turn off the meter.
They said he would be paid cash to take them to Mini Storage at 68 Cook St.
The couple unloaded almost all of the suitcases and left them at the storage unit before being dropped off at the Cordis Hotel.
Six days later, police searched a room at the Avani Metropolis hotel where the couple had been staying and found 16 stolen Trelise Cooper brand clothes.
Police then found a number of suitcases and clothing in the storage unit, which had been reserved in Edwards’ name.