By Rob Banks, Crime Editor
A jealous woman was caught breaking into a Suffolk farmhouse to steal the secret recipe for an award-winning homemade chutney, a court heard yesterday.
Edna Spratt, 44, was jealous of Lorraine Fisher’s success with her tasty chutney at country fayres and Women’s Institute shows.
Spratt’s own pickles, which used to be the talk of East Anglia, had failed to win any prizes for five years, and she was determined to get hold of 34-year-old Ms Fisher’s ingredients, Ipswich Crown Court was told.
Timothy Simpkins, prosecuting, told the shocked courtroom: “Ms Fisher, 34, had just retired to bed when she heard a loud crash. She ran down to the kitchen where she found the accused headfirst in the swing bin, having climbed through the window above and fallen down.
“Her legs were waving about and there were muffled screams as Spratt had evidently got her head stuck in a chicken carcass.
“Rather than help her out, Ms Fisher called Suffolk police, who arrived within 25 minutes to make an arrest.
“Spratt admitted to officers at the scene that she had walked to Suffolk from her hovel in Dereham and simply wanted to see the award-winning chutney recipe. She was visibly upset, although police believed it was an act.
“They insisted Spratt, who used to be a cook, was now a seasoned criminal.”
However, Marigold Cross, for Spratt, said her client denied breaking and entering and the attempted theft of a chutney recipe.
She said: “Miss Spratt was simply out for a pleasant evening stroll and got a bit lost. She knows her Norfolk landscape well but got disoriented south of the border in Suffolk. She was simply seeking help when she spotted this farmhouse.
“Miss Spratt produces splendid chutney and jams of her own, and there is no need for her to steal a recipe from Ms Fisher, 34. I know it looks suspicious because 34-year-old Lorraine Fisher has won so many prizes and she is my client’s arch-rival, but this is all an unfortunate coincidence.”
Mrs Cross told the jury that Miss Spratt lived with her brother and their ten children near Dereham in Norfolk, and being found guilty would cause great hardship to the family. “There would be no-one left to grow and look after their turnips,” she said.
Judge John Dredd is due to hear closing speeches tomorrow. The case continues.