Burglar scaled walls of Simon Cowell's house to get £1m of jewellery, court told
A serial burglar scaled walls to get inside Simon Cowell's house to steal jewellery worth almost £1 million from an open safe as The X Factor supremo and his family slept, a court has heard.
It is alleged Darren February, who denies the charge, targeted the music mogul's property in a wealthy part of west London, but was spotted making off by a private security guard who was patrolling the area overnight.
At the time of the break-in at around 1.30am on December 4 2015, Cowell was asleep in the house in Holland Park.
His partner, Lauren Silverman, their toddler son, Eric, and a nanny were also at the property.
The safe, inside a wardrobe in a bedroom, had been left open as Ms Silverman was due to fly out the next morning, jurors were told as the trial opened at Isleworth Crown Court.
February, 34, forced his way into the house through a rear floor patio door, having first tried the front door in an attempt described as "a bit ambitious" by prosecutor Denis Barry.
Mr Barry said: "He (Mr Cowell) gives evidence that the items stolen were worth £950,000. He was at home on the 4th of December 2015 together with his partner and child, the nanny and the security officer downstairs."
As he made off from the burglary the defendant is said to have dropped a passport and some of the jewellery, having been approached by security worker M'Batonha Mendes, the court heard. A second passport was later found at a refuse facility and handed to police.
The jury will hear, Mr Barry added, from two scientific experts, about DNA found on gloves that the prosecution say were worn by the defendant and discarded on his escape route from the crime.
Mr Barry, who described how it had been raining earlier that night, said: "When the gloves were found it was striking that they were dry because if they had been left there for some time they would be drenched, the prosecution say."
A handprint was also found on a wall outside the property as, the prosecution suggest, he stopped to take a short break.
Mr Barry said: "It would appear from the CCTV that the burglar is catching his breath because he had to shimmy over lots of different walls to get in to the premises and around the premises."
February, who has dozens of convictions for burglary, was also later identified by two police officers who studied CCTV footage, Mr Barry said.
He added: "Mr February over a few years has committed a total of 37 burglaries and what is more relevant, he has committed a total of 37 burglaries, most of which are in this area. These areas are some of the more wealthy areas in London."
February, of no fixed address, denies one count of burglary.
The trial is expected to last a week.
Among the items taken, according to a statement on behalf of Cowell which was read to the court, were a diamond ring estimated to be valued at half a million pounds, watches said to be worth £200,000, earrings valued at £220,000 and a diamond bracelet said to be worth £50,000.
In a second statement he said the jewellery taken was worth more than one million dollars , which the jury was told equates to around £950,000.
In the brief account of what happened, Cowell said he had been woken from his sleep in the master bedroom of the four-floor, five-bed house, by his security guard Simon Williams.
He said: "(The security guard) said there had been an incident in the property, that we had been robbed and that we should stay in the room.
"Lauren and myself then asked about my son, and we were very concerned about making sure he was all right."
Explaining why the safe was left open he said: "Lauren was flying abroad that morning and she wanted to quietly get her jewellery."
Cowell added: "I wish to say that no-one has the right or authority to steal from Lauren or myself and I will go to court if required."
Ms Silverman's statement, also read to the court, said items were taken from a dressing room on the first floor and a "large quantity of jewellery" was taken from the safe.
The court also heard from Mr Mendes, who told the jury he passed by Cowell's house after finding the dropped passport and saw "the door was wide open".
He then drove to where he had spotted the burglar and pursued him, shouting: "Just a second."
The man replied: "What do you want?" but dropped the bag and ran off.
The case was adjourned until 10am on Thursday.