Jail for man who stole Premier League footballer's £23,000 watch in 'honeypot set-up'
22 November 2019, 16:10 | Updated: 22 November 2019, 18:28
A man has been jailed after stealing a Premier League footballer's watch and tracksuit, having burst into a hotel room to film him cheating.
Prince Rowe, 38, was jailed for 16 months after he was found guilty of taking the player's £23,000 Rolex watch and £1,000 tracksuit.
Bristol Crown Court was told he had entered the hotel room intending to film the unnamed footballer and Natalie Wood, 28, with each other before selling the footage to the papers.
The decision to take the footballer's things had been "spur of the moment" and was made as the player fled the room by jumping out the window in his underwear, the court heard.
Rowe, from Birmingham, was arrested while waiting to board a flight to Dubai a few days later.
He was wearing the tracksuit.
The watch was found at his friend's home.
Judge Martin Picton described the thefts as part of a "honeypot set-up".
"The context of this offence was bursting into a hotel room - it was a really shoddy background," the judge said.
"It was an exercise undertaken for gain. This was collateral gain.
"They wanted to gain footage of the footballer in a compromising position and sell it to the papers."
The court heard that the footballer had contacted Wood on social media and gone on to meet her twice.
She had decided to expose him after finding out he was in a relationship.
The plan was hatched between her, former Take Me Out contestant Tyrone Coleman, his brother Nathan, and Rowe to film the two together.
Wood had supplied them with a key to the hotel room and Rowe told the court that when he entered with Nathan Coleman, she had been lying on the bed and the footballer had been "sitting there with his thing out".
"She jumped off the bed in panic. Before I knew it, I saw him dive out of the window," he said, adding that he had been "starstruck" after seeing the player with "his ding-a-ling out".
Rowe and the brothers insisted the idea was to sell the story, rather than to get money directly from the footballer, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
The three men were acquitted of conspiracy to blackmail but Rowe was convicted on two counts of theft, relating to the watch and tracksuit.
Judge Picton said Rowe had made "determined and purposeful" efforts to make money from the watch, which has been returned to the footballer along with the tracksuit.
Representing Rowe, Meyrick Williams told the court: "The morality of it might be bad but he's not here to be sentenced on the morality of why he was there in the first place."
He described Rowe as a hard-working man who had a difficult start in life but had made "tremendous efforts" since then.
Wood was jailed for 14 months on a charge of attempting to blackmail the footballer but her sentence was suspended for 12 months due to "exceptional" circumstances.
The court heard she had mistakenly believed the intention was to blackmail the footballer directly and sent a message: "I don't really want to expose you to the media but if you don't respond within 24 hours then you leave me no choice."
Peter Asteris, representing Wood, said she had been stalked online and abusive messages sent to her family.
Judge Picton said he had "no doubt" Wood had been "subjected to significant manipulation" by the others who were part of the plan.