United Kingdom

Tamara Ecclestone 'kept £125,000 in cash in her Kensington mansion stolen by burglary gang'

Tamara Ecclestone and her husband Jay Rutland kept £125,000 in cash in their Kensington mansion, a court heard today.

The money was part of the £25 million haul grabbed by a team of professional burglars who carried out a series of raids on the homes of celebrities.

A sex worker posed for Facebook pictures wearing Ms Ecclestone's exclusive jewellery less than a month after the earrings and necklace were stolen from the home of the F1 heiress.

Ms Ecclestone was given the £6,000 necklace by her husband and it was one of only 15 ever made.

Maria Mester, 47, modelled the trinkets after working as part of the support team for the burglars, it is claimed. Mester, her barman son Emile-Bogdan Savastru, 30, along with security worker Sorin Marcovici, 53, and Alexandru Stan, 49, all deny involvement in the raids. 

When she was arrested Mester said in Italian: 'I don't know what you are talking about and I have never stolen anything.'

Savastru was caught in possession of a Tag Heuer watch, 0.005 carat diamond worth about £20 and a Louis Vuitton bag, similar to one taken in the raid, and was planning to board a flight to Japan on 30 January, it is claimed.

Burglars stole jewellery from Tamara Ecclestone, pictured with husband Jay Rutland

Maria Mester, 47, is accused of being one of the 'support team' for the burglars who had travelled from Italy to break into the celebrities' homes last December. Pictured, Mester wearing a rainbow coloured gold necklace allegedly stolen from Tamara Ecclestone

The heist at Ms Ecclestone's house (above) took place on 'Billionaire's Row' in Kensington

'The earrings that Maria Mester was wearing when she was arrested at the airport on 30 January 2020 are identical in appearance to a pair of earrings that were stolen from 8 Palace Green,' said prosecutor Paul Jarvis

The earrings had been valued at £3,250 and the necklace £6,000 by art valuers Gurr Johns Ltd in 2015, along with 150 other stolen items reaching a total of £8,415,685.

Mr Jarvis added: 'Only 15 of those necklaces have ever been made and one of them was stolen by the burglars from 8 Palace Green.

'The burglars also stole a Louis Vuitton bag, which is identical in appearance to the Louis Vuitton bag that Mr Savastru had with him when he was arrested at the airport on 30 January 2020.

'The stolen Louis Vuitton bag was purchased by Mr Rutland in 2011 for £1,170.

'The burglars also made off with £125,000 in cash and 200,000 Hong Kong dollars, which equates to about £20,000.'

The sex worker and Savastru were filmed on CCTV with the alleged raiders in the days before and after the Ecclestone raid on 13 December.

Isleworth Crown Court has heard Romanian Mester was arrested at Stansted Airport wearing the necklace and a pair of stolen earrings on January 31.

On 10 December the four alleged burglars took seven Patek Phillippe watches worth £600,000 combined and Euro 400,000 cash from a safe in Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha's home near Harrods, jurors heard.

'They also stole a collection of Thai Buddha pendants and a Tag Heuer Connected smartwatch worth 1,500 US Dollars,' Mr Jarvis said.

Mester and her son Emile-Bogdan Savastru, 30, were filmed on CCTV with the alleged raiders in the days before and after the Ecclestone raid at her £70million mansion near Hyde Park 

Mester denies conspiracy to commit burglary and concealing criminal property

'That was the same Tag Heuer watch that Mr Savastru was wearing when he was arrested at the airport on 30 January 2020 on his way out of the UK.'

'The burglars gained access to the house through the ground floor patio door windows. They ransacked the property.

'There were two safes inside the address. The burglars tried and failed to break into one of the safes but successfully broke into the other safe.'

Three days earlier the thieves had made off with £600,000 in jewellery and and Euro 400,000 in cash, from the Knightsbridge home of late Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha after smashing one of his safes with hammers, jurors have heard.

The burglars escaped with £60,000 worth of valuables from the Chelsea home Frank Lampard shares with television presenter Christine Lampard on December 1.

From the Lampard's on December 1 the thieves grabbed a Patek Philippe, Rolex and Cartier watch; a pair of white gold cufflinks and a Mia Lia gold necklace.

The pair only managed to enter the second floor master bedroom before an alarm was triggered.

Savastru was arrested at Heathrow airport on 30 January with a £1,179 Louis Vuitton bag, identical to one stolen from the Ecclestone mansion.

Savastru and one of the alleged burglars, travelled from St Mary Cray in Kent to Victoria station to shop at Louis Vuitton in Harrods the day after the burglary on 14 December.

Mester flew to Milan from Heathrow that afternoon, twice messaging Savastru to remember his 'jacket and boots'.

Savastru and one of the alleged burglars tried to buy two Louis Vuitton leather jackets with £8,985 cash, a transaction that was rejected because they couldn't provide identification.

Savastru told the salesman: 'I understand you guys are worried about money laundering so sorry, we can't do business with you.'

On the same day one of alleged burglars discusses the sale or purchase of high value watches with a watch dealer 'Andrea Orlogi' (Andrea Watch) at St James' Court Hotel in central London.

On 17 December, Ms Mester, Mr Savastru and a sister of the alleged burglars went on a spending spree to Harrods.

They spent £600 on Christian Dior perfume, £465 on Louis Vuitton menswear: £670 on Loro Plana menswear; £810 on Hermes and £635 on Louis Vuitton shoes

After looking at Mester's 1 January Facebook post, Mr Rutland told police: 'I can clearly see she is wearing my wife's distinctive rose gold/diamond Octopussy drop earrings and also a distinctive necklace that is identical in appearance to one I purchased for my wife, Tamara.

'The necklace has a line of various coloured precious stones that hang from the main neck chain.

'These items of jewellery are quite unique in design and I immediately recognised them as pieces stolen in the burglary.'

Mester, of no fixed address, denies three counts of conspiracy to commit burglary and concealing criminal property.

Savastru, of Bethnal Green, denies two counts of conspiracy to burgle and attempting to remove criminal property.

Marcovici, of Romford, and Stan, of Harrow, deny conspiracy to burgle.

The trial continues.

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