Dorset

Lapland New Forest jury sent out for verdict

Victor (left) and Henry Mears
Image caption Brothers Victor (left) and Henry Mears deny all the charges against them

The jury in the trial of two brothers accused of misleading customers at a Lapland-themed attraction has retired to consider its verdict.

Victor Mears, 67, and Henry Mears, 60, operated Lapland New Forest at Matchams Park on the Hampshire-Dorset border in 2008 before it closed.

At Bristol Crown Court they face eight charges of misleading advertising.

Victor Mears, of Selsfield Drive, and Henry Mears, of Coombe Road, both in Brighton, deny all the charges.

They face five charges of engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading action and three charges of engaging in a commercial practice which is a misleading omission.

Jurors retired to consider their verdicts just after 1430 GMT.

They have been sent home until Friday morning when deliberations will resume.

'Festive treat'

The trial has heard that the pair could have made more than £1m from up to 10,000 advanced ticket sales.

Visitors to Lapland New Forest were offered a "winter wonderland" with snow-covered log cabins, a nativity scene, husky dogs, polar bears and other animals, as well as a bustling Christmas market, the court was told.

But jurors heard that, instead, visitors experienced fairy lights hung from trees and a broken ice rink.

Within days of the attraction opening, hundreds of disgruntled visitors complained to trading standards officials that they had been ripped off.

Less than a week later the attraction closed, with its owners blaming the media and sabotage by "New Forest villains" for the decision.

The case is being brought by Dorset Trading Standards.

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