We do not joke with wine in Gironde.
The Bordeaux Criminal Court on Friday evening handed down sentences of up to 3 years' imprisonment in the trial of a juicy theft of grands crus for a value of one million euros, part of which had flown to Hong Kong .
Sentences are below the requisitions of the public prosecutor's office which had called for up to 4 years of imprisonment and for five of the defendants, warrants of detention or continued detention.
The court had judged since Thursday ten people suspected of theft or concealment after a breakage in the warehouse of a major wine merchant in Bruges, at the gates of Bordeaux, in September 2020. In one weekend, a group of 8 thieves had took away 1,520 bottles of fine wines, with a total value of 1 million euros, taking advantage of a failure of the detection systems.
The case illustrates a "criminal phenomenon" which shook the place of Bordeaux: "between November 2019 and January 2020, no less than 20 burglaries affected wine businesses", underlined the public prosecutor Céline Pagès.
278 cases of grands crus
The prosecutor stressed "the audacity of the protagonists", members of two families between their thirties and forties, "who have returned three times" to the warehouse "to recover as many boxes as possible". Only great vintages: Mouton-Rothschild, Petrus, Château Margaux… or 278 cases in total, half of which have been recovered by the courts. But the defendants, with the criminal record provided, assured to have acted "at random" and not to have organized anything. "You're not up against a criminal organization, so what's left? A bunch of friends who made very bad choices, ”pleaded Me Elena Badescu, lawyer for two defendants.
At the end of the deliberation, two defendants in pre-trial detention were released.
The only woman to stand trial, the alleged receiver, Vanessa B., 33, was sentenced to 3 years' imprisonment, including 30 months with a two-year probationary period, and remains in detention for another case.
Prosecuted for concealment, she was suspected of having played the intermediary for the resale of 190,000 euros of fine bottles to a wine merchant of Chinese origin based in Gironde, Yan Z., 42, who had exported them to his usual customers. in Hong Kong.
Two receivers released
The thieves had called on the young woman to sell the precious "bottles", thanks to her contacts in the wine world, and her knowledge of "circuits". With this extracurricular facilitator, "we found a cash counter, nobody has it at home," noted the prosecutor. "I had a doubt about the origin of the wine, I knew it was not clear, but I accepted to help my father in prison", defended this mother of three children, who presents herself as a "performer".
The trader of Chinese origin, graduated in wine law, assured him that he knew nothing about the origin of the wine, despite the questionable conditions of transactions carried out in cash, in a parking box, at a price 20% lower at the market.
Prosecuted for "professional concealment", he was sentenced to 12 months suspended imprisonment and a 10,000 euros fine.
Bordeaux: In court for stealing grand cru wines for a million euros
Champagne: The sector forecasts record turnover in 2021
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