A thief appeared to give a High Court judge a kiss on the cheek after mugging him in the heart of the legal establishment, a court heard.
Sir Robin Knowles CBE was walking back to his flat in Middle Temple, just a few minutes from the Royal Courts of Justice, when he was confronted by a man clutching a champagne bottle who demanded his wallet, it is said.
Fearing he was about to be attacked, Sir Robin handed over cash and appears to have been kissed on the cheek by the mugger as he fled.
Inner London crown court heard the judge then had to help the thief escape because he could not get through a security gate on to The Strand.
Terry Brown, 45, is on trial accused of robbing Sir Robin at around 9.30pm on September 27 last year. It is also said he stole the champagne bottle during a burglary at legal chambers at Lamb Building, in Middle Temple Lane, earlier in the evening.
Prosecutor Michael Williams said a man was caught on CCTV entering Lamb Building where staff were enjoying a seminar and drinks reception.
The burglar was seen grabbing a coat before disappearing upstairs, then returned downstairs when he was confronted by a member of staff.
“He said I’m the cleaner, but she knew the cleaner and called him into the room”, said Mr Williams.
“At this point the man’s story changed, and instead of being the cleaner he tried to suggest he was looking for work as a cleaner.
"At that point he was told no, and the male was seen leaving the Chambers holding what appears to be a bottle of champagne or sparkling wine.”
Mr Williams said minutes later Sir Robin was returning home from a shopping trip when he was confronted by a 6ft man.
“The male approached Mr Knowles and said to him ‘give me your wallet”.
“He was holding a champagne bottle by its neck when he said this.”
Sir Robin told the court: “I did the calculation that the best thing for me to do was to produce my wallet rather than arguing or trying to run.
"I felt under a very real threat that the bottle would be used to hit me and I’m fully aware of how devastating the injury that type of action could cause.
"I was pretty focused on that danger.”
He said he handed over around £140 to the mugger, who then inspected his wallet to check it was empty of cash.
“He may have leaned in and given him a kiss on the cheek after taking his money”, added Mr Williams.
The court heard the mugger tried to flee but could not find the button to open a key fob-controlled gate from Middle Temple, so Sir Robin helped to unlock it for him.
“Either I helped him to get out of Middle Temple or I risked him coming back past me”, said the judge.
“A bit on auto-pilot I went up and remember saying 'press the green button’ from a distance.
"I then walked towards him in order to press the green button and allowed him out on to the Strand.”
Mr Williams said Brown was later picked out as the man who had burgled the chambers and robbed Sir Robin.
Brown, from Bethnal Green, denies robbery and burglary but is not in the dock for his trial.
Jurors have been told not to speculate why he is absent and unrepresented, and to focus on the evidence.
The Inns of Court are only open 12.30-3:00 in the afternoons, M-F, no bank holidays, so plan to be there at noon. The entrance to MiddleTemple Lane is just where the Strand becomes Fleet Street, to your right if you’re walking towards Fleet Street. You will think you aren’t allowed to enter because a long barrier reading NO ACCESS or something like that stretches beneath the entrance archway, and there is a man sitting inside a booth like a sentry on the lookout for eager explorers. It definitely puts you off.
Rest assured, however, that the sign is for CARS (they may not enter) You are free to stroll past Scary Man, as long as you are properly dressed (no trainers/tennis shoes, hoodies, that sort of thing) and you must behave yourself in a very dull fashion or they will throw you out. You cannot shout or run around or ride a bicycle or spin like a top and cartwheel across the gardens in a short skirt. These are LAW COURTS! You must behave. You won’t care, though, because the place is so fabulous even I behaved myself and that is extremely unexpected.
Inner Temple and Middle Temple are connected by a multitude of labyrinthine passageways and courtyards and Narnian portals and the allotted two and a half hours will pass very very quickly. My BFF and I went to Inner and Middle Temples one day and Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn (the other two) the next.
Lincoln’s Inn is easily reached from the Gothic Revival glory that is the Royal Courts of Justice building, on the other side of the street (the Strand). Follow the enormous building until you can turn left up ChanceryLane, which may be my favourite street in the whole city it is EXTREMELY EXCELLENT! Walk up and down that first (you’ll see the back of the Tudor Lincoln’s Inn building- it’s the oldest of the law courts, founded in 1422); then at the bottom of the street turn into Carey Street and begin your explorations into glory.
Gray’s Inn is north of Lincoln’s in Holborn, and isn’t as attractive or thrilling as the other three; but the others I would rate my number-one- can’t-miss London attraction.
The Duchess will mark the 75th anniversary of @aircadets on Sunday 7th February, on her first official engagement as Honorary Air Commandant Her Royal Highness will attend a service @RoyalAirForce Church St Clement Danes, followed by a reception at the Royal Courts of Justice"