Friday 20 April 2018

Burglar jailed for eight years for £1m raid on Simon Cowell's London home

At the time of the break-in, Simon Cowell was in the master bedroom of the house in Holland Park
At the time of the break-in, Simon Cowell was in the master bedroom of the house in Holland Park Newsdesk Newsdesk

A burglar who carried out a raid of almost £1 million on the home of Simon Cowell which left the music mogul in "constant fear", faces a further eight years behind bars.

Darren February, who is already in prison for knocking down and killing a motorcyclist, stole jewellery and passports from Cowell's west London home in December 2015 as the music mogul and his family slept.

The entertainment boss, in a victim impact statement read to Isleworth Crown Court, said: "The whole incident has been very traumatic and there is a constant fear that it may be repeated and that it may be worse next time."

Cowell, his partner Lauren Silverman, their son Eric, then aged two, and a nanny were asleep in the four-floor, five-bedroom house during the raid.

Cowell added: "This incident has caused me great concerns about the security of my family.

"On reflection I am very scared of what could have happened to my son if the burglar had gone into his room.

"I could not bear to think of the consequences and also a lot would have happened if the burglar had come into our room."

The X Factor supremo, who has lived at the property in the well-to-do area of the capital for 10 years, said he, his partner and Eric's nannies "have become much more anxious over safety issues relating to my son's care and well-being".

He told of his concern at what could have happened if February, who has a string of previous convictions dating back to when he was aged 12, had gone into Eric's room in the 17 minutes he spent inside the house.

Cowell said: "My son was in the house that night and I am naturally very concerned over what could have happened if the burglar had entered my son's room, as any parent in the same situation would be."

February was last year jailed for eight and a half years for causing death by dangerous driving after crashing into biker Kenneth Baldwin.

Prosecutor Denis Barry told the court that a previous trial heard how February left Mr Baldwin to die in the street, returning to the scene only to retrieve property from the car.

He was also seen talking on a phone before fleeing.

February was on licence for burglary and public order offences at the time of the Cowell break-in.

Judge Martin Edmunds QC said the 33-year-old had an "appalling previous record" and had not shown "any remorse or regret".

He said: "I can find no gap in your record to show that you have, at any time since the age of 12, interrupted your offending and the current burglary is one committed whilst you were on licence for other burglary offences."

The trial heard the safe in a dressing room had been left open so Ms Silverman could quietly collect her jewellery ahead of a flight that morning.

Items stolen included a half-a-million-pound ring, earrings, watches and a diamond bracelet - all estimated to be worth £950,000 in total.

The court heard as much as £830,000 worth of the valuables is still outstanding.

Cowell's security guard Simon Williams admitted he must have been at the toilet at the time of the burglary, and firmly rejected suggestions it could have been "an inside job".

February opted not to give evidence in the case, provided no alibi for the time of the burglary and even refused to leave prison on one day of the trial, which went ahead in his absence.

Giles Newell, mitigating, said February's son had been ill last week.

He also told the court the burglar had a "difficult childhood", having grown up in care.

The repeat offender's DNA was found on gloves dropped as he fled the scene of the crime, and a handprint on a wall of Cowell's property.

He was also identified by a private security guard doing an overnight patrol as he made off from the well-to-do area of the capital, and two police officers who knew of his lengthy record.

The lead officer in the burglary case described him as a "danger to society".

Judge Edmunds said he could not make any order for compensation or costs.

Press Association

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