Nanny admits attempting to poison Ann Summers boss Jacqueline Gold
A nanny tried to poison Ann Summers boss Jacqueline Gold by contaminating her food with screenwash because of a feud with the businesswoman’s cook, a court heard yesterday.
Allison Cox, 33, who was employed to look after Miss Gold’s young daughter, Scarlett, spiked the food in order to get her female colleague into trouble, it was alleged.
Miss Gold, who is reputed to be worth £180m, was not harmed by her actions but was concerned for the safety of her child.
Cox faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment. Standing in the dock at Guildford Crown Court, she spoke only to confirm her guilty plea to one charge of administering poison with intent to injure, aggrieve or annoy.
The court heard that she was employed by Miss Gold as a nanny when she laced her food on October 5 last year.
Rachel Davies, prosecuting, said: "Also within the household was a cook responsible for providing the family’s meals and there was, it seems, some animosity from the defendant towards the cook.
"This caused the defendant to put certain articles including screenwash, salt and sugar into food articles consumed by Miss Gold."
Miss Davies said that the cook was questioned about the food before it was ultimately deduced that Cox was responsible.
She added: "The harm caused was not physical, but there was anxiety that it was happening."
On the day the screenwash was consumed, Cox had taken 21-month-old Scarlett on a day trip.
Miss Davies said: "Obviously there was some concern when the complainant realised that the lady putting this into her food was away with her daughter."
Judge Christopher Critchlow adjourned sentencing until March 4 to allow for probation reports to be carried out and released Cox on unconditional bail.
He said: "It is a matter the court would like to know more about, apart from what the prosecution say. I want to know why she did it."
He told Cox that she would get credit for pleading guilty but that all sentencing options remained open.
Miss Gold, 50, hired Cox to work at her £6.5m mansion in Whyteleafe, Surrey, last year.
She became suspicious when the food that was always prepared by her personal chef, began tasting odd and complained that the meals were too salty and the deserts too sweet.
She was not in court on Thursday and refused to comment on proceedings.
Miss Gold, whose husband Daniel Cunningham, 33, is a City trader, is one of Britain’s best known female entrepreneurs and the country’s 16th richest woman.
She is credited with turning Ann Summers, a male-dominated business started by her father, David Gold, the West Ham chairman, into a female-friendly chain with a presence on every high street and a turnover of more than £115m.
She is chief executive of Gold Group International, which also owns the Knickerbox chain, and has attributed her business success to a combination of hard work, determination and her female instinct.
She gave birth to twins Alfie and Scarlett in May 2009 following three failed IVF attempts. Her son, who had a severe brain condition, died at eight months.
The businesswoman has joked that she has lived her whole life "backwards", having started in the business at 21 and having children at 48.