Former Aero Leather Clothing boss guilty of theft

Johnny Depp and Suzi Quatro, pictured, are fans of Aero leather jackets. Picture: Getty
Johnny Depp and Suzi Quatro, pictured, are fans of Aero leather jackets. Picture: Getty
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A FORMER managing director of a company that makes luxury leather jackets has been found guilty of stealing goods from the firm worth almost £200,000.

Items made by Aero Leather Clothing were found at the terraced Hawick home of Will Lauder. The haul was so large police had to ask for help finding space to store all the evidence.

After a three-week trial at Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Lauder was found guilty on Friday of stealing jackets, jeans and other items estimated to be worth £194,825 from the Borders firm.

The Calder family, which holds the majority of shares in Aero Leather, became concerned about Lauder’s management of the company’s finances in September 2012.

The firm’s founder Ken Calder searched eBay and discovered Lauder had been selling Aero goods worth £52,000 on the auction website.

Mr Calder said he had taken on Lauder on as a teenager in the mid-80s and mentored him. He described the relationship as like “a younger brother, or a son.”

Mr Calder, 69, rose to fame in the 60s and 70s making clothes for stars including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and the Faces. When Suzi Quatro made her first appearance on Top of the Pops, he suggested and designed her famous leather catsuit.

When he moved from London and set up business in the Borders he trained local people in cutting and sewing leather jackets. The company’s handmade vintage-style leather jackets developed a global reputation.

Celebrity fans include Daniel Craig, Johnny Depp, Puff Daddy and Dave Grohl. The firm’s jackets also recently featured in Marvel’s Captain America movie.

Lauder was made Aero managing director by Mr Calder when he retired in 2004. The Calder family believe that Lauder began stealing from the company soon after Mr Calder’s retirement to the Highlands, and according to police continued for almost a decade.

Lauder was found guilty by a majority verdict. Sentencing was deferred until 29 May.

Sheriff Alistair Noble said that because of the serious nature of the charge “all options will be available”.

Mr Calder said he was “delighted with the outcome”.