A cleaning company boss faces jail for sneaking his way into the prestigious Lord’s Cricket ground pavilion using a copy of a dead man’s MCC membership card he bought on eBay.
James Lattimer, 51, was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault inside the members’ only clubhouse at the London ground during an Ashes test match on August 15 2019.
But after they arrested him, police found he had only been allowed into the pavilion because he had falsified the pass of a member who died in 2014.
There is currently a 29-year waiting list to become a full MCC member at Lord’s, with access to the exclusive pavilion. It costs £1,000 to sign up and £6,000 a year thereafter.
Lattimer, of Bournemouth, was cleared of the sexual assault charge but pleaded guilty to fraud.
Westminster Magistrates Court heard today that because it was so ‘sophisticated’, the fraud case should be sent to Crown Court, where he could be sentenced to two years in prison.
James Lattimer, 51, bought the cheapest possible ticket to enter the Lord’s cricket ground on August 15 last year before sneaking his way into the pavilion
The court heard how the company boss had previously been accused of kissing a woman and ‘grabbing her bum cheek’ during the England v India test match on 9 August 2018.
The woman alerted police but was unable to identify Lattimer until she spotted him on the second day of the Ashes Test at Lord’s on 15 August last year.
Last month a judge said he could not be sure the victim’s identification of Lattimer was correct and he was cleared of sexual assault.
He pointed out there were 25 members named James present at the pavilion that day, many of them middl- aged and wearing the MCC orange and red striped tie with a suit jacket.
But Lattimer did admit one count of fraud after using a pass that he claimed he had bought on eBay.
It belonged to an MCC member who had died and was a photocopy that he had doctored with his photograph.
He had bought the cheapest possible ticket to enter the grounds before making his way to the exclusive pavilion area with the best seats, the court heard.
Prosecutor Jennifer Gatland said: ‘On 15 August Mr Lattimer came to attention while he was arrested in the member’s Pavilion at Lord’s Cricket Ground for a different offence.
Lattimer was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault inside the members’ only clubhouse at the London ground during an Ashes test match on August 15 2019 (England players pictured that day)
‘As he was arrested, he was found in possession of a member’s card that belongs to a deceased member that had died in 2014.
‘It had been altered so the photograph had been changed and printed on a domestic printer.
‘A Lord’s Cricket Ground member of staff has said ownership of a membership card is highly desirable.
‘There is no equivalent anywhere else in cricket as it offers the best views of the ground for a yearly club membership.
‘All members scan their tickets when they first go into entry into the ground, and then members show their cards for visual inspection.
‘Mr Lattimer’s card would not be able to be scanned so he would have to buy a cheap ticket to get access to the ground.
‘Gaining entry into the pavilion would then allow him entry to a highly desirable area to watch the match.
‘Lord’s makes it clear Mr Lattimer is not a member. They do not hold a photograph of him.’
Jonas Milner, defending Lattimer, said: ‘There is genuine remorse here. He has suffered way in excess of any punishment you impose on him today.
There is currently a 29-year waiting list to become a full member of the MCC, with access to the exclusive Lord’s pavilion (centre). It costs £1,000 to sign up and £6,000 a year thereafter
‘The offence is not a palatable one, it’s a distasteful one. But it’s important to contextualise this.
‘He bought the membership off eBay and had bought it recently. They’re available for very cheap. Old memberships are available for £4.99 right now on eBay.
‘He says it wasn’t checked. It might be embarrassing for Lords’ – it’s a very laissez faire attitude to security.
‘I accept what he has done is not cricket, but it’s important to consider the gravity of this offence. There’s no evidence he showed that pass to anyone.
‘Yes, it’s a childish and unattractive ploy. It’s taking advantage of security measures that are trusting.
‘There’s no evidence of loss here. He essentially trespassed into an area he shouldn’t have been in.’
Mr Milner also claimed Lattimer’s wife is suffering from cancer and his 10-year-old daughter had been bullied over media coverage of his case.
He added: ‘This is a man of 51 years of previous good character who made a foolish error and he did not appreciate what he was doing.
‘His primary hobby was going to cricket. He can’t do that anymore. He has been told the possibility of custody, and he is very scared today.’
District Judge Samuel Goozée said he had to consider not only actual loss, but the intended loss to the cricket club.
He said: ‘This is a gentleman who has gone onto eBay, looked for a significant item, bought it, adapted it, and made use of it. That is sophisticated.
‘I accept there is no actual harm but there is certainly potential for intended harm and that’s hard to place fairly and squarely in the sentencing guidelines.
‘There is the distasteful nature that this concerns a dead person’s identity. I don’t think that he should be sentenced in this court.’
He added: ‘I consider that my powers of punishment in this court are not sufficient.
‘Your next hearing will take place at Southwark Crown Court on a date to be fixed. You remain on unconditional bail.’