Former Kent Uni criminology student robs robing room after posing as pupil barrister to get past Old Bailey security

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By Alex Aldridge on

He has previous for stealing law books from King’s College London library

A light-fingered former Kent University criminology student has pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary after a QC caught him rummaging through the contents of her bag in the Old Bailey.

Seemingly drawing upon his knowledge of the legal profession, 25-year-old Suraj Gandhi reportedly tricked his way into the famous London criminal court on 27 June by telling security that he was doing a pupillage.

He then headed up to the barristers’ robing rooms on the fourth floor of the building, where he apparently stole £20 in change from the jacket of Drystone Chambers criminal specialist Stephen Spence.

Hunting for more cash, Gandhi — whose day job sees him work in the cloakrooms of five-star Ned Hotel in the City of London — entered the female robing rooms and began rummaging through a red suitcase belonging to Garden Court criminal defence guru Di Middleton QC.

This proved to be an error. Court News UK (£), which had a reporter at Gandhi’s trial, quotes prosecutor Leanne James as stating that Middleton “challenged him but he told her he had been looking for a toilet because the other toilets were locked.”

The determined silk then apparently “checked the toilets and found them to be in working order, so she challenged him about what he was doing”. With Gandhi at this point opting to flee, Middleton gave chase while “shouting out for help”. Soon after, he was detained by a police officer and “found to be in possession of a small money bag containing pound coins”.

At the trial, Gandhi’s brief, Daniel Green, noted that the Old Bailey advocates’ robing rooms “are not easily accessible and you would need to find them”, leaving open the possibility that the ex-criminologist had hatched his plan during actual work experience at the court.

It also emerged during proceedings that Gandhi has previous for law-related crime, having received a community order for pinching an Archbold law book worth £500 from a library at King’s College London, according to Court News UK. He received a community order for this in 2015.

Yet Gandhi walked free from court yesterday, receiving a 12-month suspended sentence that took into account the burglary, a separate charge for possession of cannabis and an additional sanction for breaching his law book theft community order.

Gandhi was also ordered to undertake what the presiding magistrate, William Hammond, termed “an accredited programme of 30 days involving critical thinking skills”.

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