A thief who took three watches valued at over £30,000 from the residence of the Duke of Westminster has been informed that he narrowly avoided imprisonment.
Matthew Turner, aged 24, was sentenced to 20 months in prison, but the sentence was suspended for two years. He appeared in Chester Crown Court and pleaded guilty to burglarizing Hugh Grosvenor’s bedroom at Eaton Hall in August 2022, where he stole three watches while renovation work was being done.
During the trial, it was revealed that Turner, who was struggling with a cocaine addiction, stole a Cartier London Tank JC watch valued at £18,000, a Panerai Luminor Marina watch worth £7,000, and a Breitling watch worth approximately £7,000, which had been gifted to him by his parents for his 21st birthday.
The theft was brought to light by Harry Fane, who had previously sold the Cartier watch to Grosvenor. He noticed it being sold on an auction website in November of that same year, which was deemed an “amazing coincidence” during the court proceedings.
According to the court, the remaining two watches were never found.
In a courtroom statement, Grosvenor expressed that the watches held immense sentimental significance, surpassing their monetary value.
He stated, “My bedroom is my own, highly intimate area within my residence. I am deeply unsettled by the fact that someone entrusted to perform a task has entered my room and taken my personal belongings.”
At the time of sentencing, Judge Everett declared to Turner: “You narrowly avoided prison.”
He stated that it was evident that Turner refused to disclose the whereabouts of the two remaining watches to the police. “You chose not to do so, implying that one of the watches was given to your drug supplier.”
During the incident, Turner was working for a company that had been employed by Grosvenor’s estate, located south of Chester, for over 50 years. The court was informed that the company had gained the complete trust of the family.
Grosvenor, who is 32 years old, is considered one of the wealthiest individuals in the United Kingdom. He holds the title of godfather to Prince George and received his family’s billion-pound fortune and estate after his father, Gerald, passed away in 2016.
According to Myles Wilson, who is defending Turner, the latter has been splurging large amounts of money on cocaine.
Wilson stated that it is a common situation where one’s debts grow, their suppliers become more desperate, they themselves become more desperate, and ultimately resort to criminal activities, leading to their own downfall.
According to Peter Hussey, the prosecutor, Turner has confessed to committing a theft of £60 from his coworker, Callum Parry, at Top Gear Tyres in Ellesmere Port in December 2022.
According to Everett, even though the two victims had completely different financial backgrounds, they ultimately faced the same outcome.
In court, Turner was accompanied by his father and stepmother and acknowledged his sentence of 200 hours of community service and 30 days of rehabilitation.
The judge mandated that he give £500 in restitution to Parry, but acknowledged that his ruling could not fully make up for the damages suffered by Grosvenor.