A WOMAN from Henley who cleans for the rich and famous has been cleared of shoplifting.
Genevieve Agnew, 58, of South Avenue, was accused of stealing two blouses worth £64 from the M & Co shop in Bell Street. A jury took just over two hours to acquit her of theft on Wednesday following a three-day trial at Oxford Crown Court.
Ms Agnew, a mother-of-three, has owned Henley Housekeepers since 1992 and her clients have included George Harrison and Liam Gallagher.
She was alleged to have stolen the size 26 floral pattern tops after removing their security tags on November 17 last year.
The court heard she was captured on CCTV taking items believed to be three tops into a fitting room while carrying a black bag but was no longer carrying them when she walked out three minutes later.
Store manager Natalie Broadley, who checked the room five minutes later, claimed she saw two empty hangers from the Anya Madsen plus-size department and another top that had two security tags attached to it.
Later, staff found a tea towel displayed next to scented envelopes where Ms Agnew had been seen standing was double-tagged.
Miss Broadley said: “It was unusual because our product isn’t tagged in that way — it raised suspicion for me. I didn’t follow it up properly because I was so short staffed and carried out further investigations later.”
In a stock check, she found two blouses missing from the Anya Madsen department. She checked till receipts and identified Ms Agnew because she had used a store loyalty card to buy a £3.50 scented envelope.
Naomi Harris, prosecuting, said Ms Agnew bought the envelope as a cover-up so she could obtain a carrier bag to hide the stolen clothes.
She said the defendant regularly shopped at the store so knew its layout and camera positions.
Under cross-examination by Ali Naseem Bajwa, for Ms Agnew, Miss Broadley was reduced to tears when asked why she had put the apparently double-tagged top back on the rail to be re-sold rather than kept as evidence.
Mr Bajwa pointed out that she had said in three separate statements that the tops were black rather than multi-coloured and suggested she had found the two hangers in another fitting room.
When police visited Ms Agnew’s home two months later she showed them two blouses in her wardrobe that matched those missing but the officers couldn’t find any device to remove security tags.
Ms Agnew told police she had bought one of them before a gastric band operation but wasn’t sure when the other was purchased.
In an interview with police that was read out in court, she said: “It would be easier for me to say yes, I will have a caution and go home. I haven’t done anything wrong. I’ve never taken anything from anywhere.”
She said the reputation of her business was too important to risk by stealing.
Ms Agnew, who lost six stone following her operation, said she was a “shopaholic” and owned more than 100 tops so she could not remember when she bought them all.
She had been on strong painkillers following the operation and couldn’t remember going into the M & Co fitting room.
She told the court she had more than 100 clients, including elderly people with little mobility and was entrusted with holding keys and operating alarms for some people.
Four character references were provided for Ms Agnew, in which she was described as “reliable and trustworthy”.
Rhona Black, 94, said Ms Agnew had cared for her on a daily basis for six years, adding: “My family and I trust her 100 per cent.”