A man has been convicted of cashing more than 30,000 pounds’ worth of cheques stolen from illusionist Derren Brown.
Bernard Ayanbanjo, 48, was given the cheques by Brown’s cleaner, who admitted theft on Thursday.
Nigerian national Ayanbanjo was found guilty on two counts of fraud, an official at Southwark Crown Court said.
He took the cheques, worth £21,550.35 and £11,500, from Rocio Pavon-Navarrete, 47, and paid them into his own bank account between October and December 2010.
The cheques were signed by James Cooper, Mr Brown’s manager, but were left blank and stored at his home in Baker Street, central London for use by his assistant while Brown and Mr Cooper were away on business.
During the two-day trial the jury were read an excerpt from Ayanbanjo’s police interview, during which he claimed the cleaner asked him to cash the cheques as payment for building and repairing a sign for her shop, named Nice ‘n’ Cheap, in Greenwich, and then pay her back the balance.
He said he did not question the source of the first cheque, but did briefly consider the second one.
“I did think this time about the cheque, but I didn’t give it too much thought because I needed payment,” he told police.
But Bethan Charnley, prosecuting, told the court: “Any right thinking person would immediately think, that isn’t right, there’s something strange here and you would need a lot of convincing before you took that cheque and put it in your bank account.” She added: “It’s not plausible, it’s not likely and it’s simply not possible that Mr Ayanbanjo was acting honestly and that he was entitled to present that cheque as he did.”
Ayanbanjo, of Waverley Road, Woolwich, and Pavon-Navarrete, of Bardsley Lane, Greenwich, will be sentenced on October 11.