Ecclestone ex says ‘diamond gifts from a royal were taken in £30m burglary’
Written by Sky News on November 19, 2020
The ex-husband of Formula One heiress Petra Ecclestone has claimed diamonds given to him by a “deceased member of the Royal Family” were among gems stolen in a £30m raid at his home.
James Stunt, 38, told Southwark Crown Court the theft from the safe at his £10m Belgravia home in December 2017 was “one of the largest in UK history”.
His former security guard, Justinas Ivaskevicius, 34, is on trial accused of stealing a 16.18-carat yellow diamond ring valued at £515,000.
But Mr Stunt, who months earlier had split from Ms Ecclestone – daughter of former F1 tycoon Bernie – said other more valuable items were also stolen from his safe.
Giving evidence, he said: “I lost diamonds, some gifted to me. I’m not going to say from who in this court because it was a deceased member of the Royal Family.”
The jurors were told the safe also contained two blue diamonds, a pink diamond, a large white diamond, six 1kg gold bars, the yellow diamond ring and a Cartier engagement ring, which Stunt said he gave to his ex-wife.
“She was rather rich, she threw it in my face,” he said.
Stunt said he was alerted to the alleged theft on the morning of 14 December 2017 by schoolfriend Alex Tulloch, who was senior vice president of gold dealing firm Stunt & Co, and acted as his “wet nurse” during a difficult period of his life.
“The whole thing had been cleaned out. There was literally not a receipt left. They took both my passports – my diplomatic and citizen’s ones,” he said.
As a picture of a safe containing only a single screw was shown in court, Stunt joked: “Maybe that was a signal, ‘you got screwed’.”
Under cross-examination from Michael Lavers, defending Ivaskevicius, Mr Stunt said: “I would say the net worth of this burglary is anywhere between 20 million and 70 million (US) dollars.”
Mr Lavers said: “If you take the values and tot them up, it’s roughly £30m we are talking about.”
Mr Stunt described himself as an “extremely wealthy” man at the time of the alleged theft, who had a gold assaying business as well as being an investor and dealing in fine art.
He told the court he had moved into the Belgravia property less than two weeks earlier following his acrimonious divorce from Ms Ecclestone and custody battle over their three children.
Mr Stunt said he did not know where the safe was or that the key, to which Mr Tulloch and head of security Gabriel Lekwara had access, was stored in his Rolls Royce Phantom, parked outside, usually alongside a Range Rover and a Lamborghini.
Prosecutors say Ivaskevicius, posing as “Sebastian Thomasz Kowal”, tried to sell the diamond ring to a jewellery dealer in Antwerp, Belgium, before it was sent to the Gemilogical Institute of America.
The court heard that the police investigation into the diamond theft also revealed that Ivaskevicius was involved in a cannabis farm, the possession of criminal cash, handling stolen cheques and the use of a number of false identities.
Ivaskevicius, of Fallowfield in Cambridge, denies theft, two counts of possessing criminal property, possessing an identity document with improper intention, producing a class B drug and four counts of handling stolen goods.
The trial continues.