Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Buckingham Palace servant who stole memorabilia worth £100,000 to sell on eBay is jailed

A Buckingham Palace servant has been jailed for eight months after stealing medals and memorabilia worth £100,000.

Adamo Canto took a Companion of the Order of the Bath and a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order medal while claiming to be cleaning to prevent Covid-19.

They were among the objects the 37-year-old sold on eBay as his defense claimed he needed money to pay off debts he incurred as he tried to afford life on the Palace's "minimal" wages.

A picture signed by Prince William and wife Kate Middleton was another item stolen, while a photo album of the Royal State Banquet during US President Donald Trump's state visit was snatched up by an eBay buyer for £1,500.

The valuable objects were all stolen from the Royal Household and the Royal Shop at Buckingham Palace between November 11, 2019 and August 7 last year.

Former catering assistant Canto also took a bespoke Samsung phone which was custom made as a gift for the Duke of York.

Canto had worked at the palace for five years but was given extra Covid-19 cleaning duties which gave him access to lockers which he raided for the valuables.

At his sentencing hearing, Southwark Crown Court heard he swiped the goods so he could re-sell them to pay off payday loan debts racked up to boost his lifestyle on the Palace's 'minimal' wages.

He had no previous convictions, and had a successful career caring for the vulnerable, including those with Alzheimers.

A judge looked kindly on Canto, reducing his sentence from a starting point of 18 months, to just eight.

Judge David Tomlinson said: "This was a high culpability case because of the breach of trust and for the reasons I have already identified I cannot simply put it at the lower end of level two.

"I note the persistence with which you committed the offences. It was a period of some nine months.

"I give you full credit for your timely plea, level of cooperation, and good character. As far as I can see, you were in financial difficulty and thought this was the way out.

"I attach significant weight to what is said about your work in the care sector with vulnerable individuals.

"These offences are so serious that only a sentence of immediate custody is justified.

"I take a starting point of 18 months reduced in the first instance to 12 months which I will reduce by a further four months to address the current difficulties identified caused by the pandemic and the personal mitigation.

"The sentence of each count which will run concurrently is eight months imprisonment."

The court heard how officers who searched his parents' home, in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, found stolen items, including a goldfish patterned tea set, and eBay records which showed he sold his haul for just £10,688.

A "conservative" estimate brought the total count of stolen items to 150. They have since been valued as being worth up to £100,000.

They also searched his home at Royal Mews, part of the palace, where they found items including silk pyjamas and a jewellery box nabbed from the Royal Shop.

Tragically, some of the items have still not been recovered. Canto previously pleaded guilty to the crimes at Westminster Crown Court.

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