Serial offender found guilty of raid on Simon Cowell's home
A serial offender has been found guilty of an almost £1 million raid on Simon Cowell's home as the music mogul and his family slept and his security guard used the toilet.
Darren February broke into the five-bed property in the well-to-do area of Holland Park, west London, through a patio door and stole jewellery and two passports.
Just 10 days after he burgled the X Factor supremo's home on December 4 2015, February hit 52-year-old father and motorcyclist Kenneth Baldwin with a car and killed him.
The 33-year-old was jailed last year for eight-and-a-half years for causing death by dangerous driving not far from Cowell's home.
February had already been convicted of 37 burglaries, repeatedly targeting the wealthy areas of Kensington and Bayswater which provided "rich pickings", prosecutor Denis Barry said.
When he broke into Cowell's house he was on licence for other burglaries and public order offences.
He has committed 58 offences spanning two decades, and was first convicted aged just 12.
The jury of nine men and three women took less than an hour to find him guilty at Isleworth Crown Court following a four-day trial.
He shook his head in disagreement as the verdict was returned.
His DNA was found on gloves dropped on his escape from the scene, and on a handprint on a wall at the property, where Cowell has lived for 10 years.
February was identified by a security worker as he fled, and later by police who were aware of his "prolific" sprees on previous occasions.
Giles Newell, defending, said his client had been caught up in a case of mistaken identity, but February did not provide an alibi and opted not to give evidence to the court.
On one of the days he refused to leave prison to come to court and the trial went ahead in his absence.
It emerged during the proceedings that Cowell's security worker Simon Williams concluded he must have been using the bathroom when the burglary took place.
He rejected a suggestion made to the media by Cowell shortly after the raid that it could have been an "inside job".
In a statement read to the court Cowell explained the safe had been left open to allow his partner Lauren Silverman to "quietly get her jewellery" ahead of a flight abroad that morning.
He told how the couple were "very concerned" for their son Eric, then aged two, when they were woken from their sleep to be told of the break-in.
Among the items taken were a ring estimated to be worth half a million pounds, earrings, watches and a diamond bracelet.
In his statement Cowell said: "I wish to say that no-one has the right or authority to steal from Lauren or myself."
One of the stolen passports was dropped nearby and recovered that morning, while another was found at a recycling facility in Wandsworth and handed to police.
Some of the jewellery was recovered at the scene but it is understood most of it was not returned.
February will be sentenced at the same court on Wednesday morning.
Detective Sergeant James Howarth, the investigating officer, said: "Darren February is a danger to society with numerous convictions under his belt.
"It must have been terrifying for the occupants to imagine someone was inside their home while they slept, particularly with a young child in the house."