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Wednesday, Jan 20, 2021

Ecclestone burglary trial: Escort denies jewel heist plot

Ecclestone burglary trial: Escort denies jewel heist plot

A woman accused of helping burglars steal goods worth £26m from three celebrities' homes has told a court she was a "simple escort" and not a professional thief.

Maria Mester denied any involvement in the series of raids which saw burglars steal lavish property over 13 days last December.

She described herself as a "stupid chicken" and not a thief.

Ms Mester also denies money laundering charges.

The court was previously told that she, her son Emil Bogdan Savastru, and two other men were part of a plot to target the homes of Tamara Ecclestone and Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and a house owned by the family of former Leicester City chairman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha.

Four other men, who cannot be named for legal reasons, are alleged to have carried out the raids between 1 and 13 December.

The homes of Frank and Christine Lampard, Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and Tamara Ecclestone and her husband were all broken into last December

Ms Mester, 47, was arrested at Stansted Airport wearing Ms Ecclestone's jewellery and said she only returned to London from Milan because she heard her son had been detained at Heathrow Airport the previous day.

The court heard Ms Mester travelled around the world for "wealthy clients" in the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Belarus, but found herself in Orpington, south-east London, last December, with one of the alleged burglars for €6,000.

Ms Mester denied being in love with the man and said she only introduced her son to the alleged burglar in case he wanted to move to London.

She said Mr Savastru only found out about her international sex work as a result of this trial.

'Not rocket science'

Under cross-examination at Isleworth Crown Court, prosecutor Paul Jarvis said the group of burglars were using the apartment in Orpington as "a base". He asked Ms Mester why they would "want an innocent person" to spend a week there.

Ms Mester replied: "He invited me to be his escort, not to participate (in the burglaries).

"I came here as an escort. I didn't come here to watch them, I didn't come here to babysit them. It's not rocket science.

"A man who wants to have fun does not entrust an escort with his life, his personal details, his information.

"Orpington was not an ugly place, it has a shopping centre, restaurant and everything. I had no reason to be bothered."

Jay Rutland, Tamara Ecclestone and their daughter had left for Lapland on the morning of the £25m burglary

She described herself and her son as "two victims" of the burglaries.

Mr Jarvis told Ms Mester she was "more than just an escort", to which the defendant replied: "No, I was a simple escort, please prove to me I wasn't."

The prosecutor continued: "You were perfectly happy to help plan and commit these burglaries, weren't you?"

Giving evidence through an interpreter Ms Mester replied: "That's what you say. Is that the reason why I returned wearing those earrings when I was arrested?

"You're talking here about professionals, I am just a stupid chicken."

Ms Mester, Mr Savastru, 30, and two other defendants, Alexandru Stan, 49, and Sorin Marcovici, 53, deny conspiracy to burgle.

The trial continues.


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