Lapland theme park 'con' brothers freed after juror caught texting boyfriend

Ruth Doherty


Lapland theme park 'con' brothers freed after juror caught texting boyfriend
Lapland theme park 'con' brothers freed after juror caught texting boyfriend

Victor and Henry Mears. Photo: PA


A pair of brothers who were jailed over a Lapland-style theme park 'con' today had their convictions overturned - because one of the jurors had been texting her boyfriend during the trial.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal announced that they had 'reached the conclusion that the convictions are unsafe'.

Lapland theme park 'con' brothers freed after juror caught texting boyfriend
Lapland theme park 'con' brothers freed after juror caught texting boyfriend

The promise: a magical snow-covered wonderland. Photo: PA



Victor Mears and Henry Mears, both from Brighton, were jailed for 13 months in March after being found guilty of conning thousands of holidaymakers at the Lapland New Forest attraction in 2008.

According to the Mirror, they were accused of misleading advertising after promising tourists 'a winter wonderland with snow-covered log cabins, a nativity scene, husky dogs, polar bears and other animals, as well as a bustling Christmas market'.

Lapland theme park 'con' brothers freed after juror caught texting boyfriend
Lapland theme park 'con' brothers freed after juror caught texting boyfriend

The reality: Holidaymakers complained of finding a muddy field. Photo: PA



But what disgruntled families actually found was a muddy field, a few fairy lights carelessly draped over trees and a broken ice rink.

The female juror on the trial was subsequently found to have been texting her boyfriend - who'd watched from the public gallery - frequently throughout the two-month trial, receiving one that said 'guilty'.

Rossano Scamardella, counsel for Henry Mears, submitted that there was a '13th juror' and that 'the jury retiring room can no longer be seen as sacrosanct, a pre-requisite for a fair trial'.

Their conviction appeals were allowed today by Mr Justice Butterfield, Mr Justice Irwin and Lord Justice Moore-Bick, who said that the full reasons for the court's decision would be given at a later date.