NICE, France (Reuters) - Former Formula One world champion Jenson Button believes he may have been gassed during a burglary at his rented villa in Saint-Tropez but a local prosecutor and French police said on Friday there was no proof that was the case.
Button and wife Jessica were staying with friends in France when two men broke in. They stole jewellery worth 300,000 euros ($327,810.00), said a police spokesman for the Var region.
“Mr Button learned about the burglary as he woke up. Nobody was hurt,” said Saint-Tropez police, who are investigating the burglary but had so far made no arrests.
The police told Reuters they had no information about the possible use of soporific gas in the air conditioning system while the deputy prosecutor of the city of Draguignan, Philippe Guemas, said nothing had yet been proven.
“For now, there is no proof (gas was used). This is based solely on their personal conviction as they had stomach aches when they woke up,” he said.
Blood and urine samples had been taken from Button and his entourage to see if gas was involved, he added. The results of the tests will not be known for several days.
A spokesman for Button earlier told the BBC the driver and his wife thought gas may have been used during the burglary at the villa on Monday night in the upmarket town of Ramatuelle, just off St. Tropez, which attracts celebrities in the summer.
“Two men broke into the property whilst they all slept and stole a number of items of jewellery including, most upsettingly, Jessica’s engagement ring.
“The police have indicated that this has become a growing problem in the region with perpetrators going so far as to gas their proposed victims through the air conditioning units before breaking in,” he added.
But Guemas disagreed, saying: “It is absolutely not a phenomenon found in Saint-Tropez”.
Button, the 2009 world champion, has endured a nightmare year in Formula One.
His McLaren team had their worst ever start to a season and had scored just four points from their first eight races before Button and team mate Fernando Alonso picked up 13 points between them at the British and Hungarian grands prix.
Writing by Toby Davis in London, editing by Amlan Chakraborty and Ken Ferris