Chef avoids jail after stealing £2,400 of food and equipment from hotel
A disgruntled chef burgled thousands of pounds of cooking utensils and food from the hotel where he used to work, a court heard.
Jack Alexander, 31, ransacked the kitchens of the four-star Christchurch Harbour Hotel (pictured) in Mudeford, Dorset, in the middle of the night.
He took a total of £1,703 of utensils and £718 of food before he was stopped by the night porter.
Alexander pretended he had been asked to pick up the items by a chef at an affiliate hotel, but they were found at his home following a police search.
A review of the hotel's CCTV showed he had trespassed four times that night.
Alexander avoided jail after pleading guilty to non-dwelling burglary at Bournemouth Crown Court.
The hotel restaurant's chef patron is chef Alex Aitken, whose former restaurant Le Poussin held a Michelin star.
Prosecuting, Josh Happé said the night porter at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel caught Alexander in the corridor at around 2am on September 18 last year. The defendant was challenged and asked to leave.
The night porter studied the hotel's CCTV and saw Alexander had entered on two previous occasions that night and could be seen leaving with black bags.
At around 2.40am, Alexander, trespassing for a fourth time, was again caught by the night porter before claiming he had left his phone. He went on to say a chef from an affiliate hotel had sent him to pick up food stuff.
Efforts were made by the night porter to corroborate this claim. This led to him calling Christchurch Harbour Hotel's head chef and putting Alexander on the phone to him.
The court heard the defendant, who had been drinking that night, said he could not hear the head chef but the night porter believed he was pretending.
After police were contacted, a search of Alexander's home took place and some of the stolen items were found and returned to their owners.
Rob Griffiths, mitigating, said the defendant had moved away from the Dorset area since the burglary and worked as a chef in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.
Griffiths said his client had not consumed alcohol for four or five months, adding: "He has got things in a fairly sensible place at the moment."
He added that the defendant was willing and able to pay compensation to chefs whose equipment he had stolen.
Recorder Nicholas Haggan QC said it was "quite clear" drinking alcohol led to Alexander committing offences but said the offender had "made some progress" in addressing his problems.
Alexander, formerly of Nelson Drive, Christchurch, received a six-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He was ordered to complete 100 hours of unpaid work in the area where he now lives.
The defendant was also ordered to pay a total of £515 compensation to the two chefs, whose utensils he had taken.