A gang accused of stealing the $3.75m Portland tiara and brooch in 2018
Prosecutor Michael Brady QC opened the case against 11 defendants at Nottingham Crown Court, saying the burglaries and violent robberies were “extremely serious, high profile and carefully planned”.
At around 10pm on 20 November 2018, three members of the group reportedly broke into the Harley gallery at the Welbeck estate in Nottinghamshire and stole the tiara and brooch within eight minutes before security personnel could arrive.
They wore motorcycle helmets and overalls, and each carried a hand or power tool that gave them access to the gallery, vault and display case, the court heard.
The diamond-encrusted Cartier jewelery worn by the Duchess of Portland to Edward VII’s coronation in 1902 was stolen in a “professionally executed, well-planned crime,” the jury was told.
Brady said the theft was a “shocking event” and the pieces would “never be seen again in their original condition” after being transported hours after the break-in to a jeweler in Hatton Garden, London, for fitting.
Video footage seized by police showed that Ashley Cumberpatch, one of the suspects believed to have committed the burglary, had filmed a year earlier with a GoPro camera visiting the premises with his partner and children as part of a reconnaissance exercise.
The defendant can be heard marveling at the items in the Portland collection, which included a Michelangelo painting and a pearl earring worn by Charles I at his execution, and lingering in front of the glass case containing the tiara and brooch.
Towards the end of the visit, he turned the camera over to his partner Kelly Duong, who is accused of conspiracy to commit burglary in connection with the theft of the tiara. She can be heard saying she’s going to film some sheep nearby, “so it looks like I’m going to film everything”.
Defendant Kurtis Dilks is also said to have been part of a group who stole watches, mobile phones, cash, a Gucci bag, headphones and a BMW smart key from former England defender Cole and his partner Sharon Canu in a burglary in January 2020 from their home home.
Former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Huddlestone’s home was attacked in a “well-planned operation” while he was playing a game for Derby County.
Dilks, Cumberpatch and Andrew MacDonald are accused of conspiring to rob Huddlestone’s wife Joanna Dixon worth £500,000 of jewelry and handbags, including her wedding and engagement rings.
The jury was told the robbers used zip ties to fasten Dixon’s hands behind her back, with one allegedly saying, “Don’t make it difficult, we don’t want to mistreat you.”
Brady said: “The presence of homeowners did not deter these defendants. They were armed with weapons and the means to subdue them. The presence of children did not bother them.”
Stolen items from the burglaries were passed to Tevfik Guccuk and Sercan Evsin, professional dealers who “operated a supposedly legitimate jewelry business in Hatton Garden,” Brady said.
“The value and conspicuousness of some of the items stolen was such that it was not possible to sell them in the UK,” he told the jury. “It can be concluded from the evidence that the property had to be sold abroad at times.”
The diamond-encrusted tiara, centered on the Portland diamond, has been described as a national treasure.
“It is difficult to overestimate the significance and cultural value of these jewelry pieces,” Brady said, adding that many of the items in the Portland collection are “extremely valuable, unique and of significant historical importance.”
The defendants deny all allegations. The process goes on.