Roy Whiting's trial was put in jeopardy before it began when a drug addict stole his defence papers and sold them for £5,000.

Cocaine user Christopher Branscombe, 20, of Milton Road, Haywards Heath, pinched the documents while working on a computer programme for solicitors Alistair Harper & Co at Haywards Heath, who defended Whiting.

Branscombe pleaded guilty to the theft at Haywards Heath Magistrates Court on September 20.

The court heard he had already handed the papers to "certain media organisations".

Hugo Keith, prosecuting, said Branscombe stole the items to feed a cocaine habit which cost him £1, 000 every two to three days.

Andrew Bishop, defending, said his client had been under a lot of pressure for such a young man and that when he finally let off steam he started taking drugs.

The sensitive nature of the case meant Branscombe could not be sentenced until Whiting's trial had been completed.

Branscombe remains on bail.

December 12, 2001