'Duped' ex-husband cleared of spying on Jimmy Choo founder

'Duped' ex-husband cleared of spying on Jimmy Choo founder
'Duped' ex-husband cleared of spying on Jimmy Choo founder

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By Jonathan Brown
28 June 2007

The ex-husband of Tamara Mellon, the founder of the Jimmy Choo shoe 
empire, has been cleared of conspiring to hack into his estranged wife's 
computer during their divorce battle.

The American oil and banking heir Matthew Mellon, 43, had denied hiring 
a crooked private detective agency to illicitly delve into her financial 
affairs, claiming he was not intelligent enough to hatch such a plan.

Having elected not to give evidence in his defence, his barrister 
Nicholas Purnell QC told Southwark Crown Court in London that his client 
had been "duped and gulled" after paying the City-based Active 
Investigation Services (AIS) =C2=A312,000 for what he believed to be 
legitimate services.

Speaking outside court after the two-month trial, the former cocaine 
addict said: "I am relieved it is all over."

The jury had heard evidence from the billionaire's former wife that he 
was a lovable if incompetent spouse. She said he "missed planes like 
other people missed buses", never had a job, could not manage bills and 
bank accounts, and could not cope with a comic let alone a book.

She said that he was so absent-minded she would not leave him alone in 
charge of their young daughter. He was "like a child" who needed a 
"nanny" to cope with life, she said.

The jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict on the single count of 
unlawfully conspiring to cause unauthorised modification of computer 
material. It was the last of 16 verdicts to be delivered against him and 
four other men.

A former police officer, Scott Gelsthorpe, 32, from Kettering, 
Northamptonshire, who helped to run AIS, was convicted of two conspiracy 
counts involving the unauthorised modification charge, and one of 
conspiring to unlawfully intercept computer material.

His associate, David Carroll, 58, of Highgate, north London, was found 
guilty of six conspiracy counts - three involving interception and the 
others involving modification. They will be sentenced in the autumn.

Two men - Carroll's computer expert son Daniel, 36, from Westminster, 
central London, and Maurice Kennedy, 58, of Barnet, north London - were 

Mr Mellon had been married to Tamara Mellon, 38, for four years when the 
relationship foundered. When divorce proceedings began, Mr Mellon's 
solicitors unsuccessfully sought the disclosure of the financial state 
of her company.

The court heard that AIS was then brought in. It hired an American 
computer expert, Marc Carron, who mounted a hi-tech cyber-assault on Mrs 
Mellon's London headquarters, sending three emails. One of the so-called 
"tempters" was signed "A Friend" and claimed to offer "things on your 
soon-to-be ex-husband".

The author claimed to attach some photos of Mr Mellon and his assistant 
before sending a second email declaring: "See what that bastard is 
trying to do to you."

Mrs Mellon, who became suspicious because of the emails' "sleazy" 
nature, decided not to open them. Her IT chief investigated and found 
that they were laden with viruses. Increasingly frustrated, the computer 
expert manufactured two more emails to conceal his lack of success and 
justify his fee.

Jurors heard that they gave the impression that Mrs Mellon was "being 
less than frank about her financial disclosures".

One "appeared to suggest that money had been sent by Mrs Mellon 
offshore" and that she was "hiding her assets".

The other gave the impression that she was thinking of selling her 
company, which, as it turned out, she eventually did.

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