A “prolific” burglar who stole around £35,000-worth of jewellery from the private quarters of Mount Stewart House has been given a 30-month sentence.
Carlo Holmes – who has amassed 112 criminal convictions – will serve half the sentence in prison, with the remainder on supervised licence upon his release.
The 61-year-old, from Cupar Street in Belfast, was captured on the historic 19th century National Trust property’s CCTV in various areas of the property acting like a normal visitor, before entering the private living quarters of Lady Rose Lauritzen.
During what Judge Stephen Fowler branded an “audacious and well-planned burglary”, Holmes entered the bedroom of Lady Lauritzen, who is in her 70s and who has spent most of her life at Mount Stewart, on May 17 last year.
The items – which included rings, earrings and a brooch – were stolen from a jewellery roll and amounted to a monetary value of around £35,000.
The CCTV footage, which was shown to Downpatrick Crown Court, shows Holmes walking away from the bedroom with the pockets of his coat bulging with the items he has just stolen.
Holmes was arrested at Belfast International Airport on May 31, and when he was detained he had £1,785 in cash on him.
He initially denied a charge of burglary at the stately home on the banks of Strangford Lough, but subsequently admitted his guilt.
Prior to sentencing, defence barrister Conan Rea said that at the age of 61, his client was aware that any time spent in prison would be “precious” time that he is away from his family.
Describing the offence itself as “neither a pure domestic burglary nor a commercial burglary, but somewhere between”, Mr Rea pointed out it occurred when the bedroom was unoccupied, and in broad daylight.
Telling Judge Fowler that Holmes has expressed regret for his behaviour, the barrister said that now Holmes is 61 and is back in prison, he was “someone who does appear to be coming to a realisation that at his time of life, he needs to stop”.
Mr Rea added: “Hopefully this will be his last occasion before the courts for such a matter.”
Sending Holmes to jail, Judge Fowler said that some of the items of jewellery were “irreplaceable and of considerable sentimental value to Lady Rose”.
Judge Fowler also warned Holmes that if he continued to offend, he faced longer periods in custody, which meant longer periods away from his family – a matter, the judge said, that was entirely up to Holmes.
The judge also ruled that the £1,785 found on Holmes when he was arrested should be paid via a compensation order, to Lady Rose.