Trelise Cooper burglary: Cake retailer accused of receiving stolen couture fights for continued name suppression

A cake decorator is fighting to keep her identity suppressed after being accused of receiving a small amount of the hundreds of thousands of dollars of high-end clothing stolen from fashion designer Dame Trelise Cooper.

Cooper’s head office in Auckland’s Newmarket was broken into last October and her entire 2021 spring and summer samples was pinched.

A 42-year-old man admitted to being the burglar this month.

However, others have also been charged with receiving the stolen couture, including a 45-year-old cake decorator.

She appeared in the High Court at Auckland with her defence counsel Christina Hallaway to argue an appeal for continued name suppression.

Hallaway said her client was accused of receiving “a very small portion of clothing” and was concerned the cake retailer and her business might face the scorn of social media if publicly identified.

When the woman was arrested she was allegedly in possession of two jackets, a couple of dresses, and a suitcase full of Trelise Cooper clothing items, the court heard.

While Justice Matthew Muir said he imagined the designer’s items were expensive he was satisfied the cake decorator had only “a small percentage of the total number of dresses stolen”.

Earlier this month, the district court heard about 2000 garments, worth $750,000, were stolen – higher than the previously believed 1800 items valued at $500,00.

Today, the court was told the value may be as high as $870,000

Cooper herself was also opposed to suppression continuing for the accused to help quell the baseless social media suspicions that her staff were involved in an “inside job”.

Judge Eddie Paul had earlier declined to continue suppression in the district court, in part because of a desire to end the harmful social media rumours.

Justice Muir reserved his decision but said his decision would be released promptly.

The 42-year-old man responsible for the break-in pleaded guilty to three charges, including burglary and a representative charge of obtaining by deception, and is due to be sentenced in September.

His application for continued name suppression was also dismissed by Judge Paul, with any appeal required by law to be filed by the end of next week. The man had earlier argued for suppression because he was “well-known” in the TV industry.

The cake retailer and a 46-year-old florist, Andrea Nicole Edwards, continue to deny the allegations against them and are progressing towards a trial next year. Edwards, whose name is recorded as Andrea Paul on her charging document, is also accused of receiving stolen property.

Hallaway said today there was a clear defence for her client and the case will proceed to trial.

A fourth person, a 26-year-old woman, was charged in May with allegedly receiving stolen Trelise Cooper-branded clothing.

The initial arrests came after police conducted a search of a property in central Auckland last November.

During the search, police said they recovered “a significant amount” of the clothing which was returned to Cooper. However, in March the court heard about three-quarters of the missing clothing was still unaccounted for.

Speaking to the Herald after the burglary, Cooper said access was gained into the styling room through a vent in an electrical room.

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