A career criminal who dined out at London’s most exclusive hotels without paying was snared when his friend left his glasses at the Hilton.
Frederick Gross, 47, of Lawson Place, Bury St Edmunds, and George Hammond, 70, of Mansfield Road, Hampstead, had donned their best suits and wandered into four of the finest eateries the in capital.
But Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard they had no intention of paying.
They were caught when Hammond left his glasses with traces of his DNA on the table after they ran up a £249 bill at The London Hilton in Park Lane.
CCTV showed they had also dined at The Dorchester Hotel in Park Lane, The Mandarin Oriental in Knightsbridge and the Berkeley Hotel in Wilton Place. The pair admitted four offences of making off without paying.
Prosecutor Simma Khan, said: “It was a deliberate spree over a period of time, deliberately targeting high-value venues to a total value of £765.”
She told the court Gross and Hammond were both seen on CCTV in the Berkeley’s Blue bar where they ordered drinks before entering the restaurant. She said they told staff they were guests at the hotel and ordered a meal.
Hammond is seen leaving first followed by Gross about a minute later, with the £243 bill unpaid.
Ms Khan said the pair used a similar scam at the Dorchester, for a £160 bill, and the Mandarin Oriental, for £116.
She added: “The defendants were not arrested at any of the venues, but were caught only from CCTV footage and DNA left on the glasses.”
Preet Sadana, for Gross, said her client had run a string of successful businesses, which had collapsed shortly before the offences.
The court heard Gross has string of previous convictions – the most recent for dishonesty landed him a 15-month jail term in 2003.
District Judge Margot Coleman told Gross: “This is extremely dishonest behaviour, targeting luxury hotels.
“Knowing the system in these hotels clearly precipitated Mr Gross and his co-defendant did. It was that he knew the system well enough to cheat them.”
But the judge spared him jail, instead handing him a 12-month community order, including a 30-day rehabilitation activity, 100 hours unpaid work and a 12-month ban from entering any of the four hotels. He was ordered to pay £85 court costs and £382 compensation.
Hammond will be sentenced at a later date at Southwark Crown Court as the offences were in breach of a suspended sentence for theft.