A girl has been found guilty and sentenced to 5 and a half years in jail for stealing diamonds price £4.2m, swapping them for pebbles in a predicament identical to a Hollywood heist film.
Lulu Lakatos, 60, posed as gem professional “Anna” despatched to the luxury jewellers Boodles, in Mayfair, London, in March 2016 to rate the stones on behalf of supposed effectively off Russian investors.
Prosecutors acknowledged it used to be one of the best-rate theft of its variety ever committed in the UK.
The seven diamonds, including one price £2.2m, had been to be placed in a padlocked purse and held in the New Bond Boulevard store’s vault until funds had been transferred.
But CCTV photos from the family firm’s basement showroom captured the moment the purse used to be assign into Lakatos’ purse and switched for a duplicate in seconds the usage of “sleight of hand”.
Nicholas Wainwright, the chair of Boodles, had temporarily left to communicate on the cell phone to an apparent Russian buyer named “Alexander” whom he had met over lunch at the Hotel Metropole, Monaco.
The jewellers’ diamond professional, Emma Barton, raised suspicions however the diamonds, believed to were concealed in a hidden compartment, weren’t show in Lakatos’ purse. She left the shop ahead of switching the gems to the purse of an unknown girl, and the international gang of criminals fled the UK for France in much less than three hours.
When the purse in Boodles’ safe used to be opened the following day, inside had been seven small backyard pebbles. The diamonds absorb never been recovered.
Lakatos claimed Anna used to be if truth be told her late younger sister, Liliana Lakatos, who had confessed to the usage of the musty’s passport to commit the crime months ahead of she died in a car smash, musty 49, in Romania, in October 2019.
Liliana Lakatos used to be wanted in Switzerland for a nearly identical predicament, the assign an envelope containing €400,000 (£340,000) used to be switched for a duplicate stuffed with paper.
But on Wednesday Lulu Lakatos used to be found guilty at Southwark crown court of conspiracy to purchase on or ahead of 10 March 2016, by a jury majority of 10 to at least one after 9 hours and 19 minutes of deliberation.
The pick, Emma Goodall QC, acknowledged she would sentence Lakatos later on Wednesday.
Romanian-born Lakatos, from Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, has three outdated convictions for theft in France. She arrived in London the day ahead of the theft and used to be viewed on CCTV with Georgeta Danila, 53, coming into the Cricklewood Hotel Hotel, London, ahead of making a reconnaissance day out to Boodles with Christophe Stankovic and Mickael Jovanovic.
Danila waited in the Willow Stroll pub, in the Victoria predicament of London, with a commerce of attire for Lakatos, who went to Boodles disguised in an extended murky coat, brimmed hat and long scarf.
Wainwright escorted her down a pitcher spiral staircase into the meeting room with Barton, the assign Lakatos examined and weighed the diamonds.
Wainwright acknowledged he used to be “watching her indulge in a hawk” as she wrapped the diamonds in my view in pre-gash tissue paper and placed them inside opaque boxes, which were assign right into a zippable purse-indulge in procure that used to be padlocked shut.
But Barton acknowledged Anna assign the locked purse into her grasp purse when Wainwright went upstairs to purchase a call from “Alexander”.
Barton acknowledged, giving proof: “She watched Nicholas lumber up the steps and as soon as his abet used to be grew to become on the spiral staircase she grabbed the procure and caught it in her purse. I acknowledged: ‘No, no, no, it is seemingly you’ll per chance maybe furthermore’t pause that, please purchase the diamonds out of your purse now. I truly have to be ready to glance the diamonds at all instances.’ In English she answered: ‘It’s OK, don’t grief, there’s nothing to grief about.’”
After leaving the shop Lakatos switched the diamonds to the procure of one of two unknown young females ahead of discarding her hide and leaving London for France on the Eurostar with Danila.
Stankovic and Jovanovic left with the 2 younger females in a rented car by potential of the Channel tunnel. Each males had been jailed for three years and eight months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to purchase, while Danila used to be acquitted after telling a jury she had no thought she had been alive to on the crime.