Catering assistant Adamo Canto, 37, swiped official signed pictures of Prince William and Kate Middleton and a photo album of the banquet held for Donald Trump’s state visit
A servant to the Queen has today been jailed after stealing royal memorabilia worth up to £100,000 from Buckingham Palace.
The catering assistant flogged some of the stolen items, which had a total value of between £10,000 and £100,000, on online auction site eBay for a fraction of their worth.
He made more than £7,700 from selling 37 royal items – including a Companion of the Order of the Bath medal belonging to retired Navy vice-admiral Sir Anthony Johnstone-Burt, the Queen’s Master of the Household, which he sold on the auction website for £350.
When police clocked onto Canto’s thieving and searched his quarters at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace, they found a ‘significant quantity’ of stolen items from the royal residence, a court heard.
Canto, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, admitted three counts of theft by an employee and was today sentenced to eight months in prison.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how Canto, who had worked in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace since 2015, stole the items between November 2019 and August 2020.
Some 77 items were taken from the palace shop, while others were stolen from staff lockers, the linen room, the Royal Collection ticket office, the Queen’s Gallery shop and the Duke of York’s storeroom.
Among the stolen items were a brooch, two gold pocket watch necklaces and a Buckingham Palace Limited Edition pocket watch.
He also swiped a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order belonging to retired British Army officer Major General Matthew Sykes, who served in the Royal Household from 2007 to 2010.
Other luxury belongings traced back to Canto included a Tiffany’s sterling pen, silk pyjamas, cufflinks and even a bespoke Samsung mobile phone manufactured for the Duke of York.
The personalised handset, titled ‘world’s first folding mobile phone,’ was sold to a buyer in the US for less than £600 and is one of 65 items which remain un-recovered.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard how Canto, who had worked in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace (pictured) since 2015, stole the items between November 2019 and August 2020
The Companion of the Order of the Bath medal was seen advertised on eBay for £350
Judge David Tomlinson heard that the items stolen were of ‘varying degrees of uniqueness’ and sold for well under their true value.
He said: ‘The fact remains that the material value of all that you stole comfortably exceeds £10,000.
‘A flavour of disparity between retail value and what the items stole for…. you stole two gold pocket watch necklaces with retail of £790 each, for £23.22.
‘You sold one purple silk Buckingham Palace, a brooch… and a Buckingham Palace Limited Edition pocket watch retailing at £995 for £100.
‘You were in some financial difficulty and found that this was the way out.
‘I take into account that a sentence of imprisonment at this time will be particularly onerous to you and have adjusted it to reflect your unfamiliarity with the system.
‘I have unfortunately come to the conclusion that these offences are so serious that only a sentence of immediate custody is justified.’
Howard Cohen, defending, had argued Canto should be given a lighter sentence because of his ‘sheltered upbringing.’
Character references provided by his former employees at a care home for dementia-suffering patients in North Yorkshire spoke of his ‘trustworthiness’ – in stark contrast to his dishonest offending.
Mr Cohen said: ‘The court is dealing with a man 37 years of age who was of impeccable character prior to his offending.
‘Born and bred in Yorkshire in Scarborough, he started his professional life in the social care service.
‘He became a team leader for a private care home facility between 2002 and 2006 and went on to become the rehabilitative centre’s lead technician for people suffering dementia and Alzheimers in North Yorkshire County Council.’
‘Character references provided by his employers attest to his professionalism trustworthiness and honesty.
‘[He] acted entirely out of character by committing the offences with which the court ha to deal this afternoon and has made the most of his life prior to coming to London to be useful to those who need his professional help and assistance.’
Mr Cohen said Canto moved to London in 2015 and started working in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace – the official home of the Queen (pictured) – but soon racked up debts of £8,000
Mr Cohen said Canto moved to London in 2015 and started working in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace – but soon racked up debts of £8,000.
He told the court: ‘One of the difficulties he experienced when coming to London was to fund his existence.
‘His pay at the palace was minimal and he felt it was difficult for him to sustain the lifestyle he wanted to adhere to.
‘He started to try and pay off the debts he had accrued by living beyond his means by taking out pay day loans. in short order he found himself taking a loan to pay the interest of another loan and another and another and built up debts of around £8000.
‘He should have reached out to his family and friends in Scarborough.’
Speaking about the thefts, he said: ‘This was not a sophisticated criminal work, he used his own name his own contact details and email address on eBay, and therefore it was not difficult to source the criminal activity to this defendant.
‘This was an opportunist who breached the trust endowed upon him through the course of his employment and as a result now bitterly genuinely and deeply regrets his actions.’
Mr Cohen said Canto had repaid around £4,800 so far. He said his client was aware the items were special, but unaware exactly how rare some of them were.
He added: ‘He did not know that was a phone that had been particularly manufactured for the Duke of York.’
Canto was described as ‘naive’ and ‘unworldly’ by his barrister who said he would struggle to cope in jail.
He bowed his head in the dock as he was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.