A construction worker accused of stealing Formula One driver Lando Norris for his £144,000 Richard Mille watch after the Euro 2020 Wembley final told the court he was shown the stolen made-to-measure watch in a pub.
The 23-year-old McLaren driver was held in a headlock by an unknown man while another man snatched Richard Mille’s £144,000 watch – one of only five in the world – from his wrist.
He is targeted as he walks to his sports car following England’s defeat by Italy on penalties on July 11, 2021.
Liam Williams, 25, from Bootle, Merseyside, is accused of being the person who snatched the watch, leaving his DNA on the arm of the racing driver.
Harrow Crown Court had heard that Richard Mille’s limited edition McLaren watch, also known as the RM6702, was the only one in the world with a blue strap made to measure Mr Norris’ wrist.
Liam Williams, 25, of Bootle, Merseyside, is the man accused of hijacking the watch
Williams denied the theft and told jurors how he had traveled to London with friends, hoping to “get in” at Wembley to watch the European Championship final because they had no tickets.
“It was a last minute moment,” he said, “I didn’t know I was going to land until two days ago.”
He explained that he had traveled with three friends from Liverpool to northwest London in a black Mercedes, but they all failed to buy a ticket for the final.
Williams said he bumped into a Londoner he knew from a music festival in Croatia and ended up watching the final on his mobile phone outside a Wembley pub.
He said: ‘After the match in the pub, around 12am, the other two members who were with us left.
Soon, within an hour, the two young men who had joined us with the hour returned and offered it to the three lads I was with.
“At that point I didn’t realize it had been stolen.”
Defending him, John Kearney asked, “They were showing the watch and I think you said at that point you didn’t know anyone had been mugged?”
Lando Norris, F1 Grand Prix of Austria at the Red Bull Ring on July 3, 2021 in Spielberg, Austria
Williams replied, “No.”
He explained that he “cracked” his head to see her, but didn’t pay much attention. He added, “Conversations were happening, I thought they just found it, I wasn’t really into the conversation.”
When asked by Mr. Kearney if he had any involvement in the robbery, Williams replied, “No, I didn’t.”
Williams was unable to give contact details of the three men he had traveled with from Liverpool to London and claimed he no longer spoke to them.
Liam Williams later claimed that he received threatening calls warning him to keep his mouth shut about the watch after he snatched it from racing driver Lando Norris’ wrist.
The court heard that Williams also agreed to find his DNA on Mr Norris’ wrist, but had no explanation why.
Mr. Silcott asked Williams why he stopped using that particular phone on July 16, 2021.
‘Basically,’ he replied, ‘at the party with the lads from London I was on the balcony, and I was on an Instagram video call talking about the match with a friend from home and these lads had an hour blah blah blah blah and one of the lads overheard me and it got a bit intense.
The unique RM 67-02 watch – specially designed for the racer – was captured in the robbery
“They were saying ‘why were you debating the clock’… I don’t know if they thought I was setting them up.”
Then on Tuesday I could see all these phone calls I had a number ringing me at night and at this point I didn’t know who it was but they were talking to me.
The same boy I had a fight with was just saying ‘Don’t say anything about the watch’ so I ‘keep my mouth shut and say no more’
He kept arguing with me on the phone and the next day he did the same thing and basically threatened me and at this point I thought I was going to have to change my phone number
“When I got arrested, I changed my phone number… I was a little afraid of getting threats and stuff,” said Williams.
When asked repeatedly why he chose not to explain why his DNA was found on Mr Norris’ wrist, Williams said: “Yeah, I chose no comment.”
Norris had driven with a friend named Max from the Goodwood Festival of Speed to the final and stopped in the yellow car park.
In his statement to the police, he explained: ‘After attending Wembley Stadium I was talking to the crowd and I noticed the first suspect and the second suspect walking around in my car, while I was talking to other people.
Norris had driven his £165,000 bright orange sports car McLaren GT and pulled into the yellow car park. Pictured: Lando Norris driving the (4) McLaren MCL60 Mercedes on track during the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia at Jeddah Corniche Circuit on March 19
I noticed they were looking at my car and myself and he was the first to keep his head down and his right hand was near his pocket.
“One of the suspects slowly approached me and asked, ‘Is this your car?’ I don’t remember exactly what happened, but the first suspect went behind me and put his right arm around my neck and his left arm under my back.
One of the suspects pulled me to him and grabbed my neck again, meaning I was facing the sky and couldn’t see him at this point.
One of the suspects told the second suspect to grab my watch. He shouted several times: “Take the watch.”
The suspect was holding me the whole time and the second suspect was trying to grab the watch.
He struggled for a while and then used force to pull the watch off, leaving scratches on my arm.
Police officer David Barrett investigated and told the jury that a 999 call reported the burglary by witness Jason Parrish at six minutes after midnight, but he did not want to make a statement.
He said, “I really can’t help you.” He was not interested in participating and no one else came forward.
“There was another person sitting in a car, but they couldn’t help, and several people sitting in a cart said they didn’t really see anything, but they were there, which wasn’t very helpful,” the officer said.
Two swabs were taken from Mr Norris’ left wrist, which revealed that the likelihood of Williams’ DNA being 37 million times greater than that of an unknown person. Pictured: Lando Norris celebrates in Parc Fermi on September 25, 2021
Even Norris’ friend Max is of no further assistance to the police investigation. I didn’t get any feedback at all from anyone. Everyone said, “I can’t help it, I don’t want to participate.”
When I called them they didn’t want to make any statement. No one ever wanted to give me a pass and Max didn’t give a pass.
When officers visited Williams’ parents’ home in Bootle, he was not there and obtained permission to search the address without a warrant.
Williams turned himself in to police on July 18, 2021 and when Norris was flown in by helicopter for an ID parade, he failed to select a defendant.
Williams told the jury today that he ended the night at a party, at which the two Londoners were also present. I have been told that if I name anyone there will be consequences, I have been threatened.
They were sober at the party, but I really didn’t want to participate. I realized that the watch was stolen.
Williams said he later gave up his phone number because he was in danger. I started receiving threats. My suspicion is that these boys thought I would give them up for the reward.
However, the public prosecutor, Mr Silcott, indicated that there was a more serious reason why he had stopped using the phone number. “You knew you had committed this theft and were worried about being traced.”
Williams replied, “I don’t agree with that.”
The prosecutor also accused Williams of shaving his hearing and shaving his head when he learned police were looking for him to thwart his identity, but the defendant alleged he did so weeks before the match.
Mr Silcott suggested: “You have waited until late in the day to make a report that fits the evidence and used your legal shield to avoid giving any account until the last minute so that the facts you provide could not be verified.”
“It’s not true,” Williams, of good character, replied, telling the court that he had taken a lawyer’s advice not to answer police questions.
Referring to the suspicious CCTV footage of the two robbery suspects, the prosecutor said: “That’s you waking up with your booty isn’t it? It was you who robbed (Lando Norris) that evening.”
One of you pulled his neck back while the other pulled the watch from his wrist.
“You’re just making that assumption,” Williams replied. I am not telling a story. I give my account.
The trial continues.
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