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Socialite Tamara Ecclestone said she felt ‘raped’ after her mansion was looted for £ 25 million in cash and gems in Britain’s biggest ever robbery.
Jugoslav Jovanovic, 24, Alessandro Maltese, 45, and Alessandro Donati, 44, have been imprisoned for a total of 28 years at Isleworth Crown Court after stealing £ 26 million in cash, jewelery and gems from celebrity homes in the largest wave of robberies from Great Britain.
They also raided the west London home of former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and his 42-year-old wife Christine, and a Knightsbridge property owned by late Leicester City football club owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, who was killed in a helicopter crash in 2018.
Jovanovic, Maltese and Donati were extradited from Italy and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to rob between November 29 and December 18, 2019 for the three raids.
Jovanovic also admitted conspiracy to commit money laundering between December 10, 2019 and January 31 of last year, and one count of attempting to convert criminal property, that is, an ‘amount of money’, at Harrods on December 14. December 2019.
He today he was imprisoned for 11 years by Judge Martin Edmunds QC at Isleworth Crown Court, while Maltese and Donati were each sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison.
The men, who were brought to court under armed police surveillance when a helicopter flew overhead, will return to Italy to serve their sentences following the UK crime proceedings.
Ecclestone, 37, the daughter of former Formula 1 supreme Bernie Ecclestone, was on vacation skiing with her husband Jay Rutland and her children at the time of the raid on December 13, 2019.
Her house in Kensington Palace Gardens was so large that security personnel did not even realize that burglars were entering through the back garden.
The raids left the gang with ‘money to burn’ and they squandered a fortune celebrating their success in upscale West End shops and restaurants.
In a statement on the impact of the victims read for the first time today, Ms Ecclestone said: ‘It has been really horrible.
“I am so scared, I will not leave my daughter alone in the house at night, because I feel that the people that I must trust, no, I am not sure that I can trust anyone.”
The F1 heiress said that she now she freaks out in her own home.
“An example recently, was Jay was in the bedroom, I could see a shadow of feet near me while he was bathing my daughter and it freaked me out,” she said.
‘I feel like [my daughter] is picking up my vibe a little bit now, she won’t even she go to the bathroom without [being] like mom is coming with me.
And now she also talks about thieves, which is really very difficult and that’s the worst part trying to pretend that nothing happened, and trying to make her feel like the house is a safe space.
In addition to the things that have been lost, some of them have made me very sad, because it is like things that my mom and dad gave me, my mom got me a wedding gift.
“ A lot of it was very personal, I wanted to give some of the items to my daughter one day, but other than that, it has been very difficult trying to move on normally.
‘It’s strange to know that there were people, like at the top of the jewelry cabinet where there were pictures of my daughter and knowing that they touched those things and were there, she really makes me feel like raped.
“ I just didn’t want to go back after the holidays, it was as strange a feeling as going back through the door and trying to retrace the steps with Jay trying to see if he could open that window and go through it.
“The fact that [the thieves] were behind my daughter’s playhouse in the backyard, and all the things [that] related to her really scares me.”
Tamara Ecclestone was on holiday in Lapland with her husband, art gallery owner Jay Rutland
She said she is now ‘obsessed with security’ with barbed wire and barbed wire doors, and was thinking of moving into an apartment.
“It’s not really how I want to live my life,” she added.
Mr Rutland said in his statement read from him to the officer: ‘My daughter now, on a semi-regular basis, is talking about it even though we told her that the thieves did not actually get in. She asks Tamara and me if the thieves are coming back.
“ I feel a whole combination of emotions, anger that they have stolen from us, fear that they will return and sadness because the sentimental jewels that were gifts at our wedding or at the birth of our daughter were stolen and cannot be replaced.
“As my wife and I continue to support each other, it is incredibly difficult for me to see how much it has affected her and how nervous she has become.”
Earlier, Timothy Cray QC, the prosecutor, told the court: “The evidence shows that these were organized crimes carried out by organized criminals.”
The group flew to the UK to carry out the plans and acted as a disciplined team, each with its own role in the crimes in question.
They used anti-surveillance knowledge, such as burner phones, and were rarely seen together in public places where they would be tracked by closed-circuit television cameras.
Aside from a few items of relatively small value, none of the 26 million pounds removed has been recovered.
Mr Cray said: ‘These crimes were staged: the thieves didn’t find their way to the target houses by chance and they didn’t just steal and launder £ 26 million worth of property luckily.
“These three houses were attacked in just 13 days, between December 1 and December 13 of last year, and by December 18 most of the people involved had fled the country, almost certainly, we suggest, with the proceeds of crimes “.
Jovanovic and alleged co-conspirator Daniel Vukovic, who remains at large, flew to the UK on November 30, 2019 and stayed at the TLK Hotel and Apartments near Orpington in St Mary’s Cray.
His wife Christine Lampard said
His wife Christine Lampard said: ‘Since this break-in at my home, I am much more afraid of being alone in my own home, I trust less of visitors to the home and I feel unsafe in my home.
“I have a young daughter and I feel vulnerable in a home where I had always felt safe and happy before. Sometimes I have had trouble sleeping since the incident because I am sensitive to any outside noise for fear of another attack.”
After the first robbery, Jovanovic and Vukovic bought a phone at Cash Convertors in Orpington and went shopping in Knightsbridge, where they bought shoes for around 800 euros. They also opened a Harrods loyalty card, giving a false name.
On December 10, the gang struck Srivaddhanaprabha’s Knightsbridge home on Walton Place, more than a year after he was killed in a helicopter crash after a Leicester City game.
They broke through the patio doors and managed to force open a leaking safe with £ 1 million in property, including seven Patek Philippe watches and € 400,000.
They also stole a collection of Thai Buddha pendants and a Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch from a table, which an accomplice was wearing when he was arrested while trying to leave the UK.
Mr. Srivaddhanaprabha’s family said in a statement read in court: “Our late father’s residence was a place of reflection and prayer. We felt it was the strongest connection to him, as she spent his last night there before his death.
“Since the theft, our sacred and special connection has been damaged and violated beyond repair.”
On December 11, Jovanovic booked a table at the Zuma restaurant in Knightsbridge for five people and the bill rose to £ 760.15.
On December 13, the gang made their way to Mrs. Ecclestone’s mansion. The family had flown to Lapland in Finland for the Christmas holidays.
This time, Jovanovic acted as a lookout.
“Once in the house, the house is so large that the guards did not realize the burglars were inside and did not realize what was going on until the robbery started, Mr. Cray said.
The security guards present did not see the men enter the backyard.
“Although they were harassed by the guards in the end, they escaped in a series of taxis back to Orpington, leaving behind on the property two of their burner cell phones.”
The Palace Green home had security features including monitored alarms, CCTV, and security guards.
It is situated on a private street of extremely high value properties, including the embassies of Russia, Israel, France, Romania, Iran, and some very wealthy people.
The road is controlled by security gates guarded by armed and unarmed police.
“But simply put, it appears the thieves were lucky in two main ways,” said Mr. Cray.
First, once they got through the backyard perimeter, the house was so large that it was difficult to pick up the noise from the security office.
Second, the internal alarms did not go off because security guards were present and there were various administrative tasks they had to perform, for example making and receiving deliveries, even though the family was absent.
“ All of this meant that once the thieves passed by the monitors and cameras in the back garden, they had a large empty house to themselves and therefore had the time and opportunity to steal £ 25 million. sterling in jewelry and cash. ”
The thieves took almost 400 jewelery items, 150 of which were valued at 8.4 million pounds. The value of the other 250 items is between £ 18 million and £ 21 million.
They stole £ 2 million worth of watches belonging to Mrs Ecclestone and £ 400,000 worth of watches belonging to Mr Rutland, as well as £ 125,000 in sterling and 200,000 Hong Kong dollars, which is around £ 20,000.
The earrings and necklace worn by accomplice Maria Mester when she was arrested on January 30, 2020, looked identical to items stolen from the property.
Jovanovic went to Harrods and attempted to spend £ 8,985 in cash on Louis Vuitton clothing, but the transactions were rejected.
On December 18, Jovanovic flew from the UK from London City Airport to Milan.
“When he flew in from London City Airport, it appears that he dyed his hair bleached blonde in an attempt to change his appearance,” said Mr. Cray.
Jovanovic was arrested by armed officers who broke into a seaside villa near Rome last October and was extradited to the UK almost six months later, on April 2.
The master criminal is a fan of the British comedy show Mr Bean.
His Facebook profile has two images of Rowan Atkinson’s character, including one of Mr. Bean sitting in an armchair on the roof of a yellow Mini.
Donati appeared in court in a green Armani EA7 tracksuit, while Maltese wore a black sweatshirt and pants, Jovanovic wore a gray tracksuit.
Jovanovic, without a fixed address, admitted to conspiracy to rob, between November 30, 2019 and February 1, 2020, attempting to convert criminal property and conspiracy to commit money laundering between November 30 and February 1, 2020.
Maltese and Donati, both without a fixed address, admitted conspiracy to steal.
Romanian sex worker Maria Mester, 47, and her waiter son Emile-Bogdan Savastru, 29, along with security worker Sorin Marcovici, aka ‘The Professor’, 52, and hotel worker Alexandru Stan, of 49, they were acquitted by a jury of conspiracy to rob in January of this year.
Jugoslav Jovanovic Quick and Facts
- Jugoslav Jovanovic, Alessandro Maltese, and Alessandro Donati, are facing jail
- They admitted carrying out three raids in West London over 13 days in 2019
- Ms Ecclestone is the daughter of ex-Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone
- Her and husband’s home was ransacked while they were in Lapland on holiday
- Other victims included former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard and the late Leicester city owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after he died in helicopter crash