Derren Brown’s ex cleaner has been jailed for 16 months after she was found guilty of filling in over £33,000 worth of blank checks from the gay illusionist’s home.
Rocio Pavon-Navarrete, 47, a former teacher, previously admitted stealing two signed checks from the entertainer’s home whilst he was on his 2010 Enigma tour, the Daily Mail reports.
Pavon-Navarrete, of Greenwich, south-east London, pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court last month to one charge of theft.
Brown, who came out in 2008 and is renown for his mind reading tricks, had hidden the blank check in his home, in Westminster, in case of an emergency.
The cheques were signed by Brown’s manager, James Cooper, but were left blank and stored at his home for use by his assistant while the TV star and Mr Cooper were away on business.
It is believed that Pavon-Navarrete passed the checks onto her friend Bernard Ayanbanjo, 48, who then paid them into his account, banking one for £11,500 and the other for £21,550.35.
Pavon-Navarrete’s business was said to have been struggling at the time of the thefts.
The judge said she had lied and her only regret was being caught.
Brown dismissed Pavon-Navarrete in June 2010 but didn’t notice the money had gone missing until his accountant picked-up on some unusual bank transactions, six months later.
Brown, who is famous for his ability to predict events such as the winning lottery numbers, received a handwritten letter casting doubt on the honesty of his cleaners, drawing his attention to Pavon-Navarrete.
Brown joked afterwards: ‘I suppose I should have seen this coming.’
It was suggested to the court that the cleaner did it out of revenge, having just been made redundant by Brown after seven years of working for him.
James Holland, of the defence team, claims the parting between the pair had been ‘amicable’ and states that her only motive was money.
He told the court: ‘She has two businesses. They were struggling due to a loss of a sum of money which was stolen. This was reported to police. Her problems started there.
‘She was under a degree of pressure in terms of finances and she succumbed to that pressure. She had the opportunity to take two checks and she did so. For that she is extremely sorry.
‘She is genuinely sorry for what she has done. She felt once she had done she was trapped and could not see an escape out of it.’
The barrister said Ayanbanjo, a regular customer in her shop, told her he wanted to buy checks which he would use as guarantees.
This is what caused her to pass on the checks.
Holland claims his client never received any money from the amount that was cashed by Ayanbanjo.
Judge David Higgins however, said he believed that was a ‘self-serving untruth.’
He said: ‘Until you pleaded guilty you have lied throughout this case and it is plain you have continued to lie.’
After dismissing her expressions of remorse, he added: ‘They are quite inconsistent with your conduct throughout this case. No doubt you regret being caught but in my judgment nothing more.
‘This matter is so serious only an immediate custodial sentence can reap it justice. The proper and least sentence which I may impose is one of 16 months.’
Pavon-Navarrete admitted theft from her employer between April and June 2010. She changed her plea to guilty just before her trial was due to start last month.
She had previously failed to turn up at court claiming she was in hospital with chest pains.
Pavon-Navarrate showed no emotion as she was led down to the cells and just £950 of the cash has been recovered by police.
Ayanbanjo, of Woolwich, south east London, was also supposed to be sentenced today after being convicted of two counts of fraud between October and December 2010 but it has been put back until October 19.