A burglar marked his 61st birthday by being remanded into custody yesterday for the "audacious and thoroughly dishonest" theft of tens of thousands of pounds of valuables from one of Northern Ireland's most famous stately homes.
Downpatrick Crown Court was shown CCTV footage of Carlo Holmes walking around private areas of Mount Stewart as he stole £35,000 of jewellery, including rings, earrings and a brooch, from Lady Rose Lauritzen's bedroom in May last year. None of the items have been recovered.
Holmes initially denied any wrongdoing, before eventually admitting to a single charge of burglary over the incident at the majestic property on the banks of Strangford Lough.
Prosecutor Sam Magee said the defendant had "embarked on an audacious, carefully planned and thoroughly dishonest venture to burgle the private residence of Lady Lauritzen", who is in her seventies.
After entering the premises through the reception area, Holmes - who was dressed in a heavy poacher-style coat - was captured on CCTV in various areas of the house, including an education centre. A camera then spotted him walking along a private corridor that leads to Lady Lauritzen's bedroom.
Six minutes later, he was filmed walking back along the same corridor and away from the bedroom, the pockets of his coat "bulging" with the items he had just stolen.
Mr Magee, who said the CCTV showed Holmes trying to "blend in" while walking around the visitors' centre before the theft, revealed that the valuables had been stolen from a jewellery roll.
On the morning of the theft, Lady Lauritzen had locked her bedroom and placed the key on the windowsill of an opposite bathroom, as was her custom.
Telling the court it was clear that Holmes was aware of the location where the key was kept, Mr Magee said he believed that the defendant was working with another person.
The prosecutor added that the incident was a "brazen, highly professionally planned burglary of a stately home" during which the Lady's privacy was invaded.
When Holmes was arrested at Belfast International Airport on May 31, he had £1,685 in cash on him. A subsequent search of his home saw the discovery of another £3,700.
When he was interviewed, Holmes admitted visiting Mount Stewart but denied stealing jewellery from the property. However, he later admitted to a single charge of burglary.
The court was told that the defendant has 112 previous convictions and had previously used a large coat to steal items.
In the past, Holmes has targeted the Culloden Hotel in Cultra and the Inniskillings Museum in Co Fermanagh.
Adjourning sentencing until next week, Judge Stephen Fowler remanded the defendant in custody.