In the Media

Only Way is Essex stars and the gold raid gang

PUBLISHED September 13, 2012

That, at least, is unless two of the reality television show's stars are called on to give evidence in the trial of an alleged gang of gold smugglers.

A family friend of the sisters Sam and Billie Faiers, who are usually seen topping up their tans in their bikinis or sipping cocktails in a nightclub, was caught allegedly trying to smuggle bullion from Europe by hiding it in her bra.

Sheron Mancini, 53, had two bars of gold the size of mobile phones hidden in her underwear when Belgian police stopped her as she drove to catch a ferry, a court was told yesterday.

Mrs Mancini, who is allegedly part of a gang that includes the stepfather of the Faiers sisters, is accused of attempting to smuggle stolen gold into Britain.

The Old Bailey heard that the ingots, which each weighed 1kg, were samples of a larger shipment that would be melted down and converted into cash. It is alleged that they came from a consignment of gold and silver bullion worth a million pounds that was stolen from the back of a lorry in Belgium.

The robbery was said to be an inside job, as Brian Mulcahay, the driver taking the bullion to a smelters in Britain, was part of the gang, members of which were being watched by police.

The jury was told that the Faiers sisters would give defence evidence in the trial of John Corley, 53, father and son Andreas and Kayracos Nicolas, 50 and 30, and Mrs Mancini.

The sisters' step-father, David Chatwood, 58, Mulcahay, 46, Matthew Middleton, 42, Gary Cummings, 51, Stanley Rose, 75, and Mrs Mancini's partner, David Gale, 55, have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to steal.

John Price QC, prosecuting, said the robbery took place as Mulcahay drove the bullion, belonging to the Swiss company Metalor, from a depot outside Brussels towards Ostend last October. He told police that East European robbers forced him at gunpoint into a lay-by. There he said his load was stolen and he was bundled into the back of his trailer and locked inside. Mr Price said: "Mulcahay's account of his ordeal given to Belgian police was pure fiction, an invention.

"Mulcahay was the inside man assisting others to carry out the theft of his own valuable load of bullion. This was a crime made in Britain, carried out in Belgium and blamed on East Europeans."

It is alleged that Mrs Mancini was stopped as she carried "marketing specimens" to the ultimate buyers of the bullion. Mr Price said: "When Mancini was later searched there was concealed in her bra two gold ingots wrapped in plastic bags with the Metalor label.

"The plastic bags and labels establish beyond question the ingots in her bra were part of the stolen consignment."

Belgian police also found grains of silver in a travel bag inside the car.

The alleged central players in the plot, Mr Corley, from Biggin Hill, Kent, and Kayracos Nicolas, of north London, deny conspiracy to steal. Along with Mrs Mancini, of Harlow, Essex, and Andreas Nicolas, of Duxford, Cambs, they also deny conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert or transfer criminal property.

The trial continues.