Big Sam Allardyce, Andy Carroll and other West Ham players 'duped by Christmas hamper conman'
A West Ham employee has told a court he was duped into inviting an alleged conman into the club to sell luxury goods and hampers which never materialised.
Player liaison officer Tim De'Ath arranged for a man who called himself Mark Kingston to set up a stall at the football club's training ground after being given his number by then team captain Kevin Nolan.
Stephen Ackerman, 48, is accused of defrauding former West Ham manager Sam Allardyce and 12 other players and staff, also including England striker Andy Carroll, out of thousands of pounds by selling them Christmas hampers which were never delivered.
Ackerman, of Loughton, Essex, denies 19 charges of fraud, with the alleged proceeds amounting to a total of more than £60,000.
The defence argue that Ackerman, who was picked out by Mr De'Ath in an identity parade, was not the man who purported to be Mark Kingston.
Mr De'Ath told jurors at Snaresbrook Crown Court that many of the players bought discounted hampers and champagne as Christmas presents from Mr Kingston on December 12 2014.
He said: "I ordered three cases of Laurent Perrier champagne and six bottles of Cristal champagne but I never actually paid for anything.
"I think the Cristal champagne was a lot cheaper than what you could get it for in the shops.
"Most people that actually ordered stuff from him paid on their cards using a chip and pin machine.
"A lot of them said they were for Christmas presents so obviously to get them before Christmas."