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The defendants wept as Isleworth Crown Court jurors returned unanimous verdicts of not guilty to conspiracy to burgle homes in west London in 2019, plus some alternative charges. Escort Maria Mester, 48, her bartender son Emil Bogdan Savastru, 30, ex-sports teacher Sorin Marcovici, 53, and hotel concierge Alexandru Stan, 49, were cleared of being in the raids’ “supporting cast” after a two-month trial. Prosecutors claimed they gave logistical support to the alleged burglars, who cannot be named for legal reasons, rather than carrying out the raids.
Police said thieves stole £25million of cash and jewellery from the Kensington home of socialite Ms Ecclestone in an hour-long raid, unbeknown to guards.
Ms Ecclestone, daughter of ex-F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, was on holiday in Lapland with her husband, gallery owner Jay Rutland, their daughter, their dog and a security guard at the time.
Other victims included Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and his TV presenter wife Christine, and the family of the late Leicester City FC owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.
Every defendant said they had no part in the plot and did not know the alleged burglars were criminals.
Savastru was convicted of one charge, of attempting to conceal criminal property – relating to a bag and watch taken in one of the raids. He will be sentenced at a later date. The others were cleared.
Defence lawyers said the prosecution of four defendants on eight charges – which resulted in the solitary conviction for one defendant on a single lesser charge – would have cost taxpayers millions of pounds.
The court had heard how Ms Mester flew to the UK from Italy on December 7 2019, nearly a week after the raid on the Lampards’ Chelsea home.
She was described by police as the plot’s “matriarch”, who was said to be “inseparable” from the alleged burglars. But Ms Mester said she was only in London after being paid around £5,000 to accompany one of the alleged burglars for the week.
The court heard she introduced the alleged thieves to her childhood friend Mr Marcovici and her son Savastru.
Prosecutor Timothy Cray QC had told the jury that the three raids netted “big money”, with “fabulous jewellery” stolen.
The majority of it has not been recovered.
Mr Cray said the Lampards had around £60,000 in watches and jewellery stolen on December 1 while they were out, before raiders ransacked the family home of Mr Srivaddhanaprabha, who died in 2018 in a helicopter crash.
Savastru was arrested at Heathrow Airport on January 30 last year as he prepared to leave for Japan, wearing Mr Srivaddhanaprabha’s Tag Heuer watch and carrying a Louis Vuitton bag that had been stolen from Mr Rutland.
He said he thought that the items had been left behind by the alleged burglars at the Airbnb property which he had helped them rent.
The jury convicted him of that count.
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