Burglar who sneaked into home of former Attorney General jailed
Burglar, 49, who sneaked through open front door at £6.5m west London home of former Attorney General Lord Peter Goldsmith as he loaded taxi with luggage is jailed for three years
- Serial crook Sean James, 49, targeted the Westminster property last month
- James triggered the alarm and smashed his way out of the house and fled
- But his fingerprints were found and he was arrested and later pleaded guilty
- Lord Goldsmith, Tony Blair’s ex-top lawyer, said he had been left ‘very shaken’
Tony Blair’s Attorney General was burgled by a drug addict after leaving the front door to his £6.5million central London home wide open.
On April 5 Lord Peter Goldsmith, 69, was preoccupied packing luggage into a taxi outside his exclusive Grade II listed Westminster property when serial crook Sean James crept inside.
Moments later, the former top government lawyer locked the door from the outside and was whisked away to join his wife in New York, leaving the 49-year-old burglar alone inside the Georgian house.
Lord Peter Goldsmith (pictured), 69, was preoccupied packing luggage into a taxi outside his exclusive Grade II listed Westminster property when serial crook Sean James crept inside
But he was quickly snared by the alarm and smashed his way out of the back door where he fled the Queen Anne’s Gate with nothing.
Fingerprints matching James’s DNA were recovered by police who arrested him the next morning at his south London home.
Today, James pleaded guilty to burglary and was jailed for three years at Southwark Crown Court.
Although James, of Queenstown Road, Wandsworth, did not steal anything from the ‘very shaken’ ex-Labour frontbencher’s house, the law states that trespassing with the intent to steal, commit damage or cause harm is tantamount to burglary.
Prosecutor Gregor McKinley said: ‘This is a burglary at a house in Queen Anne’s Gate, London SW1.
‘It is the residence of Lord Goldsmith, the former Attorney General, and his wife Lady Goldsmith.
‘At about 10:30am, Lord Goldsmith left the premises, a taxi came to collect him.
‘He came out of the front door to put some bags in the taxi.
Although James, of Queenstown Road, Wandsworth, did not steal anything from the ‘very shaken’ ex-Labour frontbencher’s (pictured) house, the law states that trespassing with the intent to steal, commit damage or cause harm is tantamount to burglary
‘While he was inside this defendant was seen to go into the premises through the open front door.
‘Lord Goldsmith came back out again a couple of minutes later, got into the taxi and went on his way. There was no encounter between the two.
‘The alarm in the premises was activated in the upstairs master bedroom.
‘When the police arrived there was damage to the door at the back of the property, some glass had been smashed.
‘The police recovered from that door and a wall both fingerprints and DNA which very quickly linked to this defendant on the police DNA database.’
Mr McKinley told how early the following morning James was arrested at his home address.
‘He said that he didn’t know anything about it. That was the stance he maintained at the magistrates’ court where he pleaded not guilty.’
In his victim impact statement, Lord Goldsmith said: ‘When my wife and I returned from an overseas trip we went straight home and checked the house.
‘Nothing was actually taken from the house but there was considerable damage to the back door at the rear of the house.
‘This is a Grade II listed house and will require specialist attention. When the incident occurred my wife was in New York.
‘She was very upset that someone had been in the house and in our bedroom. It spoilt what was intended to be a pleasant and relaxing trip.
‘We have been very shaken by this incident.’
Judge Christopher Hehir said: ‘It is often salutary to listen to such victim impact statements. What he articulates very clearly there reflects a very common experience of victims of domestic burglary – the sense of intrusion and violation.’
Turning to the defendant, the judge said: ‘I suspect he is somebody who goes out every day looking for opportunities to commit burglary frankly.’
Defence counsel Darrell Ennis-Gayle said: ‘He has numerous previous convictions. He has made admissions to being a recreational drug user.
‘He found himself in a significant drug debt and he was under significant pressure.
‘This is somebody who has been in custody for the majority of his relatively young life.
‘He wants it to be known he had no idea whose property it was. He is worried that the status and profile of the victim will have a bearing on the sentence.’
‘It won’t,’ replied the judge.
‘The fact that the victim of your burglary is a high profile public figure is neither here nor there.
‘What renders the offending more serious than anything else is your dreadful record.’
The judge explained that James has four previous convictions for domestic burglary and numerous convictions of non-domestic burglary.
‘You committed this offence while on licence for a burglary offence, for which you got three and a half years at Isleworth Crown Court.
‘At 49 years of age you, as a grown man, need to realise there is a fork in the road.’
The latter stages of Lord Goldsmith’s government tenure which spanned between 2001 and 2007 were mired in controversy after he approved the decision to invade Iraq.
He is currently the head of New York based law firm Debevoise & Plimpton’s European litigation division.
Lord Goldsmith’s Grade II listed home is a late Georgian terrace that was built in 1837 and is purported to be worth anywhere between £5.6m and £7.6m.
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