'Stolen' jacket worn to court

2010-07-09 08:10

Cape Town - A man who allegedly stole a jacket from the boot of a Mexican tourist's car, and brazenly wore it in court, was on Thursday ordered by the Cape Town Special World Cup Court to return it to its owner.

Niel Petersen, 23, pleaded not guilty to a charge of stealing the jacket and other items from a car hired by Espejel Tenes on the night of July 6.

He however pleaded guilty to the less serious alternative charge of possession of stolen property.

Prosecutor Dale Andrews declined the guilty plea, and said he would instead press for a conviction on the theft charge.

He accused Petersen of stealing the jacket, a backpacker's bag containing a laptop, shoes, cash and a diamond ring.

Tenes told the court he had forgotten to lock the car, after parking it in Cape Town's CBD and visiting a restaurant with his nephew, Felix Humberto.

He only noticed the theft after dining, when he wanted to take photographs of Cape Town Stadium, and did not find his camera in the boot.

Wearing it

"The missing jacket is the one that the accused is wearing at the moment," Tenes said when asked to list what had been stolen.

Tenes said he wanted the jacket back, but was more concerned about the missing diamond ring that was given him as a gift, and had sentimental value.

Magistrate Joe Magele ordered Petersen to hand the jacket to a police officer after he did not challenge Tenes' claims.

Petersen, conducting his own defence, told the court he had found the bag in the street. As he picked it up, he claimed, other people grabbed it and ran away with it.

Tenes said the bag, with some items still in it, was later returned to him by police at the Cape Town charge office.

Inside he found a small black box that had contained the ring - but the ring itself was missing.

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