A servant to the Queen today admitted stealing two prestigious medals from Buckingham Palace as well as other items worth up to £100,000.
Adamo Canto, 37, swiped a Companion of the Order of the Bath medal belonging to retired Navy vice-admiral Sir Anthony Johnstone-Burt, the Queen’s Master of the Household, and sold it on auction website eBay for £350.
He also swiped a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order belonging to retired British Army officer Major General Matthew Sykes, who served in the Royal Household from 2007 to 2010, during his nine-month spree.
Canto also admitted stealing other items including signed photos of Prince William and Kate Middleton, and a photo album of the Royal State Banquet during Donald Trump’s state visit, which he flogged for £1,500 on eBay.
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.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that 37 items were offered for sale on eBay ‘well under’ their true value, with Canto making £7,741.
District Judge Alexander Jacobs released him on conditional bail and sent the case to Southwark Crown Court for sentencing at a later date, warning Canto he faces a possible jail sentence.
Former catering assistant Canto, who had worked at the Palace for five years, was given additional cleaning duties during Covid-19 lockdown and used them to steal from locker rooms.
Not all of the stolen items have been recovered, the court was told.
Simon Maughan, prosecuting, said: ‘It appears that Mr Canto, who at the time was living at the Royal Mews in Buckingham Palace, had various items that had been taken from within Buckingham Palace.
‘One of the complainants had located the medal on eBay having been sold on May 27. It was an account called AdamoSalvatori123 which was tracked to Mr Canto.
‘Forensic data was provided by eBay. His sale history shows 37 items that had been sold from Buckingham Palace.
‘At the time, Mr Canto was employed as a catering assistant and indeed he worked at Buckingham Palace since 2015.
‘It appears to be the case he had taken advantage of lockdown of offices during Covid-19 and given extra cleaning roles, a deep clean giving him access to items he would not normally be given in his catering role.
‘Police attended the Royal Mews and arrested him. A search was carried out, and some items were recovered.
‘His parents’ address in Scarborough was also searched and it appears he sold the 37 eBay items for £7,741.23.
‘This is well under the shop value; 77 items were recovered from the Palace Shop, 11 items belonging to the Masters Department.
‘There is an aggravating factor, the trust element that people on site are to understand, uphold and comply with.’
A victim impact statement from Sir Anthony Johnstone-Burt, Queen’s Master of the Household, head of ‘below stairs operations’, said that he noticed the medal was missing on June 11 when he needed to wear it for Trooping of the Colour.
‘I had to borrow a medal and reported it on June 29. The reason I waited was because I had to make sure I hadn’t misplaced it,’ he said in a statement.
‘I had been informed by a member of the Royal Household that items from Buckingham Palace were being sold on eBay.
‘I discovered that my Companion of the Order of the Bath was up for sale for £500. It had been sold for £350. The replacement value is £665.
‘I knew this was my medal because of the ribbon. I had sewed on an additional hook and eye.’
Retired British Army officer Major General Matthew Sykes, who served in the Royal Household from 2007 to 2010, lost his Commander of the Royal Victorian Order.
He said: ‘I was made aware on August 24 a number of medals had gone missing.. I checked my locker and found the medal was missing from my personal locker.
‘Police were made aware on August 25.
‘On May 12, a Royal Victorian Order box was sold. It’s possible that this was the medal that was taken from my locker.’
Mr Maughan added: ‘I say there is additional harm. The items stolen were of sentimental value regardless of worth.
‘We have figures just shy of £10,000 to £100,000.’
District Judge Alexander Jacobs told Canto: ‘Obviously you’ve done the right thing by pleading guilty at the first opportunity.
‘I commit to the Crown Court for sentencing as my powers are not sufficient to deal with this today. I cannot tell you when, but it will usually be in three or four weeks.
‘I grant you bail but you must turn up at Southwark Crown Court on the day you are told otherwise you may be committing a separate offence.’
Canto, of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, wore a navy suit, red tie and a black mask and only spoke to confirm his name, date of birth, address and to enter his guilty pleas.
Buckingham Palace declined to comment.
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