Mears brothers win right to appeal in Lapland theme park case

Posted On 28 May 2011 at 10:01 pm

The two brothers from Brighton who ran the farcical Lapland theme park, Victor and Henry Mears, can appeal against their convictions.

Victor Mears, 67, of Selsfield Drive, Moulsecoomb, and Henry Mears, 60, of Coombe Road, Brighton, were each jailed for 13 months in March by a judge at Bristol Crown Court.

They were convicted of conning thousands of customers shortly before Christmas 2008 with false promises of a “winter wonderland” in the New Forest.

Many of their victims were families with young children, disappointed after responding to adverts in The Argus and other local newspapers to visit the nightmare attraction.

The brothers are believed to have taken more than £1 million and were convicted of eight counts of misleading advertising by a jury at Bristol after a two-month trial.

But one of the jurors broke the rules that are intended to ensure that defendants are given a fair trial.

She had been in regular contact with her fiancé, who sat in the public gallery and hung around the court during the trial.

They sent each other text messages even while she was in the jury box, the barrister Geoffrey Robinson told the Court of Appeal in London, yesterday (Friday 27 May).

The fiancé even sent the juror a text saying: “Guilty.”

Although she was discharged, Mr Robinson said that three other jurors had seen some of the messages so the whole jury should have been discharged.

Mr Justice Sweeney said that the appeal was arguable and gave permission for a full appeal hearing before three judges.

It is expected to take place next month.

He refused a request to grant the brothers bail.

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