Buckingham Palace catering assistant admits stealing medals and photos

30 November 2020, 16:06 | Updated: 2 December 2020, 14:11

Adamo Canto leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday
Adamo Canto leaving Westminster Magistrates' Court on Monday. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

A Buckingham Palace servant faces jail for stealing medals and official photos from the Queen's residence and trying to sell them on eBay.

Adamo Canto, 37, pleaded guilty to three counts of theft between November 11 last year and August 7 at Westminster Magistrates' Court.

Police recovered a "significant quantity" of stolen items when they searched his quarters at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace, where he had worked as a catering assistant since 2015.

Some of the goods, worth between £10,000 and £100,000 in total and including two prestigious medals, were listed for sale on eBay, prosecutor Simon Maughan said.

Canto took advantage of the lockdown of the offices at Buckingham Palace during Covid-19, when he was assigned cleaning roles that gave him access to areas of the palace he would not have otherwise had, Mr Maughan added.

The most expensive item he stole was a royal state banquet photo album of US president Donald Trump's visit to the UK, worth £1,500.

He also swiped official signed photos of the Duke of Sussex and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the court was told.

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, the court heard.

Mr Maughan said 37 items were offered for sale on eBay "well under" their true value, with Canto making £7,741.

Canto admitted stealing a Companion of Bath medal belonging to Vice Admiral Master Tony Johnstone-Burt, the Master of the Household, which was sold for £350 on eBay.

In a statement read to the court, Vice Admiral Johnstone-Burt said he first realised the medal was missing because he needed to wear it for the Queen's Trooping the Colour on June 13 and was later told by staff stolen items were for sale online.

"I discovered my Companion of Bath medal and box for sale. It was up for sale for £500. However, it had been sold for £350," he added.

Canto also stole a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO) medal from the locker of former British Army officer Major General Richard Sykes, which was given to him by the Queen in 2010.

Canto, from Scarborough, North Yorkshire, appeared in court wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt, red tie and glasses.

District Judge Alexander Jacobs released him on conditional bail and sent the case to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing, warning Canto he faces a possible jail sentence.