THE head of security at News International told a worker he had "dug a hole in his garden and burnt stuff", the hacking trial was told today.
Mark Hanna made the comment to Robert Hernandez over several pints and a bottle of wine in the Dickens pub in St Katherine's Dock, near the News International (NI) plant in east London, on the night before the last edition of the News of the World (NotW) was published in July 2011, the Old Bailey heard.
Mr Hernandez told the court they had discussed Hanna working for Rebekah Brooks 10-15 minutes before talking about the fire at his home.
In the meantime, Hanna had also talked about the closure of the News of the World.
When asked if it was papers that he burnt, Mr Hernandez said: "He just looked at me and did not reply and changed the conversation."
Mr Hernandez, who was working for a security firm at the NI offices, told the court Hanna did not tell him when the incident happened or what it was that he burnt.
"That's all he said - he dug a hole in the garden and burnt stuff... for all I know, he could have been burning bank statements."
Hanna, 50, a security controller of Glynswood Road, Buckingham, denies conspiring to pervert the course of justice.
Defendants Rebekah Brooks, Charles Brooks, Stuart Kuttner, Clive Goodman, Andy Coulson and Cheryl Carter deny the charges against them.
The jury heard about hate mail sent to Mrs Brooks and News International staff in the run-up to the closure of the News of the World.
One such letter read: "Rotting in hell would be too good punishment for what you have done. The universal law of karma will exact revenge on every single one of you. There is no escape. Have a nice day."
William Clegg QC, defending Hanna, said blue or green-ink letters with addresses such as "Fortress Wapping" would usually be picked up in the postroom and gone through by his client, who was in the habit of taking work home with him.
There was laughter in the courtroom when the judge, Mr Justice Saunders, queried: "If you write in blue ink you are presumed to be a nutter? I'm sure you are right."
He added: "I have only got black or red so I'm all right now."
Last week the trial heard that a holdall in which evidence was allegedly hidden from police by Charlie Brooks contained a pornographic magazine.
A leather satchel inside the bin bag contained a magazine called Lesbian Lovers as well as seven DVDs, the jury was told.
Fernando Nascimento, a Brazilian cleaner who found the bin bag in the underground car park of Mr Brooks’s London home, was asked about the X-rated material by Mr Brooks’s barrister Neil Saunders.
Mr Nascimento, who had said he found two laptops, an iPad and some paperwork inside the bin bag, was shown a photograph of a Jiffy bag which was also found inside.
He denied opening the Jiffy bag, and Mr Saunders said: “If you had opened it, you wouldn't have forgotten.