jailed for stealing antiques and artwork from employer
jumper Kim Roberts sentenced to three years after admitting to theft
of items including a Picasso sketch from homes of wealthy countess
A former show jumper
who stole antiques and art including a Picasso sketch and Ben
Nicholson painting from a wealthy countess while working as her
housekeeper has been jailed for three years.
Kim Roberts, 59, was
told by a judge that her offences against Lady Bathurst were “greedy
stealing from Bathurst’s homes in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, and
south-west London. She also admitted taking a Volvo car from another
former employer, the interior designer Emily Olympitis.
In addition she
pleaded guilty to giving false details to employment agency Holland
Park Staffing, which supplies butlers and nannies, so that previous
convictions for dishonesty would not be discovered.
Her barrister, Simon
Roberts, pleaded for leniency at Gloucester crown court saying she
had had a “disastrous life” and was terrified of going to prison
because she looked after her disabled son.
He pointed out that
the artwork had not even been missed until she came to sell it. But
Judge William Hart said the law was there to protect everyone,
“whether prince or pauper”.
prosecuting, said Kim Roberts worked for a little under a month as a
housekeeper for Bathurst in the spring of 2013.
Soon after she left,
Roberts had a Nicholson painting valued. She was told it was worth
£200,000, but dealers she spoke to were suspicious about where she
had got it from. A gallery owner recognised it as belonging to
Bathurst and contacted her.
Bathurst did not
realise it was missing as it had been kept in a study, covered up. It
was only then that she realised other property, including the Picasso
sketch, were missing.
Police were called
in and Roberts was arrested when she arrived at the Lansdowne Club in
Mayfair, London, where she had arranged to meet a gallery owner
hoping to sell the Nicholson painting.
Dixey said: “As Ms
Roberts arrived at the club she was arrested. She was searched and
items found in her handbag included a set of keys, which were to Lady
Bathurst’s London flat.
home in Colyton [in Devon] was then searched and officers could
immediately see there were a large number of items of value in the
property. There were more than 50 items, mainly antique silver and
things of that sort.
defendant was interviewed she said that the Ben Nicholson painting
and the Picasso sketch had in effect been given to her and that she
was entitled to sell them.”
Roberts claimed that
other items in her possession – such as a box with Bathurst’s
name written on it – had been dumped. Items found had been taken
from both Bathurst’s Gloucestershire and London homes.
Later police found
that the car was driving had false number plates. It had been stolen
from Olympitis in 2012.
Dixey said Roberts’
fraud against Holland Park Staffing involved changing the 6 in her
date of birth 1956 on her driving licence to 8. This was clearly
because she had a criminal record that she did not want to be
discovered, he said.
The prosecutor said
Roberts had been convicted of offences including deception,
shoplifting and forgery in the late 1980s and 90s.
He told the court it
was impossible to put a valuation on what she had stolen. “But it
was in breach of trust and there were clearly items of sentimental
value as well as high material value,” he said. “She worked for
very wealthy people who perhaps did not miss things in the way that
others might have done.”
Simon Burns, for
Roberts, said she was “extremely contrite” but argued that it had
not been ”elaborate or complicated” offending.
He told the court
the paintings stolen would “not immediately have been missed”
because they were “not on the walls being appreciated”.
The Picasso sketch,
he said, was a “very simple’” one and not worth more than
£100,000. The Nicholson still life from 1945 was worth between
£80,000 and £120,000, he said.
motivation was that she had “fallen from her very comfortable
position that she once enjoyed a long time ago”, Burns continued.
“She had been
married comfortably and was looked after. But that marriage broke
down. She has suffered from depression since 1987. The partners and
relationships she has had have all failed. She has had what is quoted
in the medical paperwork as a disastrous life.
“She suffered a
severe road traffic accident which resulted in her contracting a
brain tumour in 2001. The only thing she could do was domestic work.
She became a housekeeper. It was not a career of choice.
“She was a single
mum with a son who required constant care. He is 29 and she cares for
him. He functions at the level of a 15-year-old and is on constant
medication. She is extremely anxious about him and who is going to
look after him if she is in prison. She had fallen on hard times and
resorted to stealing to save herself from financial destitution.
“A lot of people
speak highly of her. She has looked after a number of families. She
was a horsewoman who competed as a show jumper at Hickstead. All that
has been lost.”
the judge said “These were premeditated offences by you as an
employee with the clearest intention of selling the items on. There
is a greedy and calculated nature to your offending. What you did in
effect was to repay your employer’s trust with avarice and
“Lady Bathurst is
a wealthy woman from a wealthy family and you no doubt thought she
could easily bear the loss, even if she did discover it. The fact she
is wealthy is not a mitigating factor. The criminal justice system
should protect all, whether prince or pauper.”
He praised the
“integrity and professionalism” of the art dealers involved in
the case and said it was thanks to their honesty that all the stolen
property Roberts tried to sell was recovered.
The 9th Earl and
Countess Bathurst, with Lord Apsley and Lady Rosie Bathurst (middle)
Bertram Bathurst, 9th Earl Bathurst (born 11 March 1961), known as
Lord Apsley till 2011, is a British peer and conservationist.
Born on 11 March
1961 as the eldest son of Henry Bathurst, 8th Earl Bathurst and
Judith Mary Nelson, he lives with his wife Sara at Cirencester Park,
the Bathurst family seat. With the death of his father on 16 October
2011, he became the 9th Earl Bathurst, of Bathurst in the County of
Sussex (Great Britain, let. pat. 27 Aug 1772), 9th Baron Bathurst, of
Battlesden in the County of Bedford (Great Britain, let. pat. 1 Jan
1712), and the 8th Baron Apsley, of Apsley in the County of Sussex
(Great Britain, let. pat. 24 Jan 1771).
first Hilary George, 2nd daughter of John F. George on 31 May 1986.
They divorced in 1994. With her he has two children, a son and a
Henry Bathurst, Lord Apsley (born 6 March 1990)
Lady Rosie Meriel
Lilias Bathurst (born 1992)
On 5 June 1996, he
married secondly Sara Chapman, currently named The Countess Bathurst,
daughter of Christopher and Marguerite Chapman of Ilminster,
Bathurst runs the
Bathurst Estate, covering some 15,500 acres of countryside. It
includes much of the village of Sapperton and Coates, including
Pinbury Park, and lays claim to the principal source of the River
Thames. Within the estate is the famous Ivy Lodge polo ground,
Cirencester Park Polo Club being founded in 1894, making it the
oldest playing ground in the United Kingdom. He also runs Cirencester
Park Farms which farms 4,500 acres of arable crops, partially
organic, and a herd of Gloucester Cattle.
conservationist, he has campaigned to preserve the rural countryside
and various historic buildings. Most notably The Earl and Countess,
as Lord and Lady Apsley, made headline news when they tried to save
an historic building in The Cattle Market in Cirencester, built by
the 6th Earl Bathurst for the Mansion's old Kitchen Garden. When they
discovered it was to be demolished by the County Council to make way
for a Leisure Centre, they threatened to chain themselves to the
building to prevent the demolition going ahead. The problem was
eventually solved when Bathurst negotiated with the demolition
company to buy back the building and it was removed, brick by brick
to the family estate.
Bathurst is a
President of Cirencester Housing and Marshall of the St Lawrence
Hospital Trust. He is also the founding Director of the annual
Cotswold Show, held every July on the Bathurst Estate and a Patron of
the Cotswolds Museum Trust. He is President of The Cirencester
Hospital League of Friends, President of Cirencester Band, President
of The Cirencester Male Voice Choir, Steward of The Cirencester
Society in London, Patron of The Cirencester Cricket Club, and
President of Cirencester Park Polo Club.
Bathurst is involved
in the National Farmers Union. He is President of the Gloucestershire
Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG), a governor of the Royal
Agricultural University, past President of the Three Counties
Agricultural Society and Director of the Gloucestershire Farming
Cirencester Park is
a country house in the parish of Cirencester in Gloucestershire,
England, and is the seat of the Bathurst family, Earls Bathurst. It
is a Grade II* listed building.
Allen Bathurst, the
first Earl Bathurst (1684–1775), inherited the estate on the death
of his father, Sir Benjamin Bathurst, in 1704. He was a Tory Member
of Parliament and statesman who from 1714 devoted himself to
rebuilding the house formerly known as Oakley Grove, which probably
stands on the site of Cirencester Castle, and laying out the famous
In 1716 Bathurst
acquired the extensive estate of Sapperton from the Atkyns family,
including Oakley Wood, and went on to plant one of the finest
landscape gardens in England, complete with park buildings, walks,
seats, grottoes and ruins. They include Alfred’s Hall, now taken to
be the earliest recorded Gothick garden building in England, which is
also a grade II* listed building.
Allen Bathurst was
raised to the peerage as a baron in 1711 and an earl in 1772, and was
a patron of art and literature no less than a statesman. The poet
Alexander Pope was a frequent visitor to Cirencester House; he
advised on the lay-out of the gardens and designed the building known
as Pope's Seat in the park, which commands a splendid view of woods
and avenues. Jonathan Swift was another appreciative visitor.
The house contains
portraits by Lawrence, Gainsborough, Romney, Lely, Reynolds, Hoppner,
Kneller and many others, and a set of giant marble columns carrying
busts, which are genuine antiques, collected in Italy by Lord Apsley,
the son of the third earl, at the time of the Congress of Vienna in
There were additions
to the house by Sir Robert Smirke about 1830.
were patrons of the Arts and Crafts movement, when Ernest Gimson and
the Barnsley brothers, Sidney and Ernest, settled at Pinbury Park on
the Cirencester estate in 1894. Norman Jewson joined them in 1907,
and describes his life as a student of Gimson in Sapperton in his
classic memoir, By Chance I did Rove (1952).
The estate includes
much of the villages of Sapperton and Coates, including Pinbury Park,
and lays claim to containing the principal source of the River
Apsley House, at
Hyde Park in London, was built for Lord Apsley, later the third earl
Bathurst, Lord Chancellor, by the architect, Robert Adam. In 1807 the
house was purchased by Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley, who
in 1817 sold it to his famous brother, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of
Wellington (who presented his portrait, today still in Cirencester
The house has the
tallest yew hedge in Britain. The semi-circular hedge, which is 33
feet wide and 150 yards long, is believed to have been planted in
about 1710. The tonne of clippings produced by its annual trimming
are sold to pharmaceutical companies who use extracts as a key
ingredient of Docetaxel, a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast,
ovarian and lung cancer.
7th Earl Bathurst
8th Earl Bathurst
The 8th Earl
Bathurst, who died on October 16 aged 84, was a junior Conservative
minister at the Home Office and Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen, but his
public offices never matched his private antics for originality and
Bathurst, as he was known, inherited the earldom and Cirencester Park
in Gloucestershire from his grandfather, the 7th Earl, in 1943, the
year after his father, Lord Apsley, DSO, MC, MP, had been killed, and
was a keen countryman who rode hard to hounds, as well as a just and
He followed in the
footsteps of the 1st Earl, – a former Tory MP for Cirencester and
friend of Pope, Swift and Congreve who afforested 3,000 acres of the
estate in 1720 – by becoming a keen forester himself and President
of the Royal Forestry Society as well as Councillor for the Timber
An apiarist and an
able farmer, Bathurst was also the owner of "Jim" and
"Joe", the last working oxen in this country. He ran
Cirencester Park Polo Club and was active in local affairs – it was
his job, among others, to hand out the Bledisloe Trophies to
well-kept Cotswold villages. He was also a governor at the Royal
Agricultural College for many years.
Henry Allen John
Bathurst was born on May 1 1927 the eldest son of Allen Bathurst,
Lord Apsley, and his wife Violet. He was educated at Eton College and
Christ Church, Oxford. In 1948 he joined the military and served as a
lieutenant in the 10th Royal Hussars and as a captain in the Royal
Gloucestershire Hussars (TA).
In 1957 Bathurst
became honorary secretary of the Agricultural Committee in the House
of Lords and a Lord-in-Waiting to the Queen. He was Chancellor of the
Primrose League from 1959 to 1961 as well, and, during this time, at
was President of the Gloucestershire Branch of the Council for the
Protection of Rural England.
His political career
was short-lived, however, and reached its peak when he was appointed
Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Home Office in
1961, only to be discharged the following year by Harold Macmillan in
the "night of the long knives".
retired to the family seat, though his work for the Tory Party
continued under other guises: in 1968, to raise funds for the Party,
he sold a 2nd Century Samian cup that had been found among Roman
ruins on the estate in 1891.
Bathurst's duties at
Cirencester Park included riding as Master of the Valley of The White
Horse Hounds, the Gloucestershire pack kept by his family since the
1830s. He cut a dashing figure on a horse, and became the first
English peer to ride a Russian horse to hounds, so keen was he to
introduce Russian-bred horses to the local hunting fraternity.
In 1965, however, in
order reduce costs for both hunts, he merged his own twenty couple
with the local Vale of The White Horse pack. But he diversified into
other equestrian pursuits, founding Cirencester Park Polo Club –
venue of the famous chukka which saw the Prince of Wales come a
cropper mid-swing and break his arm.
Scandal struck in
the Eighties when, twice, (in 1982 and 1988), plantations of cannabis
and opium poppies were found to be growing within the Park walls,
tended by local opportunists who were later jailed. Bathurst
weathered the ensuing press attention with the same grace as he
employed in 1989, when he lost his driving licence for 15 months
after a four-hour lunchtime "jolly" with friends.
In 1988 Bathurst had
moved to a farmhouse on the estate to make way for Lord Apsley, his
son and heir, yet he remained involved in the running of things. In
2003, driving through the Park on his way home from a polo match, his
Landrover was overtaken on the grass verge by a Volkswagen Golf
travelling at 40 to 50mph. Roused to heights of fury by this flagrant
breach of the estate's 20mph speed limit, the 76-year-old Earl gave
chase, flashing his lights, sounding his horn and engaging in
off-road manoeuvres to try and get the offender to stop. But it was
the Earl himself who was forced to stop – by the security team
protecting Prince William, the car's driver.
House issued an apology, the Earl remained unrepentant: "There
are rules in the polo club about driving on the estate, and people
have to stick to them", he told an interviewer. "I don't
care who it is, royalty or not – speeding is not allowed on my
estate. If I was to drive like that in Windsor Park, I'd end up in
the Tower." He did not recognise the Prince, he explained,
observing that he "thought he was some young yob in a beat-up
Chairman of the Gloucestershire branch of the Country Landowners'
Association from 1968 to 1971 and a Deputy Lieutenant for
Gloucestershire from 1960 to 1986.
He married first, in
1959, Judith Nelson; they had two sons and one daughter. The marriage
was dissolved in 1977 and the following year he married, secondly,
Gloria, widow of David Rutherston.
His son Allen
Christopher Bertram Bathurst, Lord Apsley, born in 1961, succeeds to
The 8th Earl
Bathurst, born May 1 1927, died October 16 2011