UK

Hacking trial: Phones and computer devices 'never found'

Rebekah Brooks Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Former News International chief Rebekah Brooks denies all charges against her

As many as 10 mobile phones and computer gadgets potentially linked to Rebekah Brooks have never been found by police, a court has heard.

Det Con Philip Stead said an iPhone, an iPad and "unknown device" listed on Mrs Brooks' home router were not recovered.

He told the Old Bailey searches were made of the former News International chief executive's office, and addresses in London and Oxfordshire.

Mrs Brooks denies three charges including conspiring to hack phones.

News International also provided details of three BlackBerry phones, an HTC phone, two Apple iPhones and an Apple iPad believed to be linked to Mrs Brooks.

The court was told there were up to 10 devices in use up until September 2011 which were unaccounted for by police.

However, one phone may be a duplication, another may belong to someone else and an iPad may have been lost.

Track down

Det Con Stead told the court it had recently come to light that one of the iPads linked to the Oxfordshire router had since been claimed by Carphone Warehouse chairman Sir Charles Dunstone. Further investigations are being carried out.

Andrew Edis QC, prosecuting, told the court the devices were ones that had been used at Mrs Brooks' home in Oxfordshire or had been issued to her by News International.

The jury heard that Mrs Brooks' home was searched twice and her offices and flat in Chelsea, south-west London, were also searched by police.

The phones had their registration details, unique identification numbers and usage analysed by police in an effort to track them down.

One item, an iPad 2 belonging to Mrs Brooks, may have been lost, as suggested by an email exchange shown to the jury between Mrs Brooks, her husband Charles Brooks and her former PA Cheryl Carter.

The email dated April 1, 2011 from Mrs Brooks said "lost iPad 2" - the reply from Mr Brooks was: "Back of the car last night? Restaurant? Not here."

The prosecution told the jury two of the iPhones identified could be the same physical device because there were incomplete records.

Equipment seized

The trial has heard how Mrs Brooks left with just her handbag and a disabled BlackBerry phone after she resigned from her job in July 2011.

Her office was sealed off by News International staff and computer equipment bagged up by police for examination.

Police later seized computer equipment in a search of Mrs Brooks' London home while she was in custody at Lewisham Police Station and were handed bags containing two laptops kept overnight in the underground car park of the Chelsea Harbour flat.

Referring to BlackBerry phones on the list of missing devices, Jonathan Laidlaw QC, defending Mrs Brooks, asked Det Con Stead: "Would you be able to say whether or not 4, 5 or 6 may simply be early BlackBerrys issued to Mrs Brooks?"

The officer replied: "I do not think you can tell."

Mr Laidlaw continued: "We will never know, will we?", to which the witness replied: "No, not in relation to these devices."

Mrs Brooks, 44, of Churchill, Oxfordshire, also denies conspiracy to commit misconduct in a public office and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

All seven defendants in the phone-hacking trial deny the charges against them. The case continues.

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