Date: 14th May 2003

Man admits stealing Potter book

Donald Parfitt, 44, of Worlingham, Suffolk, admitted theft when he appeared before magistrates in Lowestoft on Wednesday.

Magistrates adjourned sentencing until 4 June and told him: "We are considering all options."

James Terry, prosecuting, told the court Parfitt was arrested after attempts were made to sell the stolen pages to The Sun newspaper.

He said Parfitt worked at Clays Printers in Bungay, Suffolk, where the latest in the series of the popular books, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, is being printed.

He said Parfitt told police he found pages from the new book in a car park at the print works.

Other people then became involved and attempts were made to sell the stolen property to the newspaper, which in turn contacted police.

Richard Mann, defending Parfitt, said the driver had simply come across the pages after finishing work, and he said his client had nothing to do with other pages from the book found in a field in Suffolk.

He said Parfitt was sorry and "wished the whole episode hadn't occurred at all".

Mr Mann said: "The whole world knows he has been charged with this high profile offence - his name is now associated with dishonesty."

"He thinks he's going to lose a lot of friends. He is certainly someone who will lose his job."

Mr Terry told the court that Clays operated a high level security system to protect the confidentiality of the new book, which is due to go on sale on 21 June.

He said the pages stolen by Parfitt had been verified as being from the new book.

Mr Terry told the court the matter first came to light when a journalist for The Sun received a call from a man who gave his name as James at around 1500 BST on 5 May.

He said the caller claimed he had the first three chapters of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and was offering to sell them for 25,000.

Mr Terry said further calls were then received by newspaper staff, who arranged a meeting at a supermarket car park in Bungay, and alerted police who were waiting when the meeting took place.

Two 16-year-old boys, who cannot be named for legal reasons, but who live near Beccles, Suffolk, admitted receiving stolen property.

Their case was remanded to a later date, as was that of Garry Cox, 18, a carpenter from Harleston, Norfolk, who denies receiving stolen property.

Source: Press Release