EXCLUSIVE: Romanian woman gets suspended sentence for stealing �4,000 diamond from Brentwood jeweller

A ROMANIAN woman was given a suspended jail term today for stealing a �4,000 diamond with the help of a child from a Brentwood jewellery shop.

Lucretia Muntean, 19, distracted the owners of Amore Exclusive Jewellery, in Ingrave Road, Brentwood, and slipped the expensive jewel from the cabinet on March 18.

Her husband had previously entered the shop, around 3.30pm, claiming to be interested in purchasing an engagement ring, Basildon Crown Court heard today.

Muntean, another woman and a child joined him in the shop moments later and “blocked” the owners, Karen and Andrew Whitmarsh, from seeing her pocket the gem.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said Muntean “reversed” her way to the thigh-high cabinet in the centre of the shop so she could lift the lid and take the diamond.

“Having removed it the child, who was stood at that point to one side and must have had quite a good view of what she was doing, came across to her, and something - the Crown say the diamond - was handed to the child,” Mr Jackson said.

Shortly after Muntean had done the deed her husband said he wanted to buy a ring he was looking at but needed to go to a cash point to get the cash for the deposit.

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They left and never returned.

It was not until the group left Mr and Mrs Whitmarsh realised the jewel was missing.

They were insured but having only recently taken over the shop they could not afford the insurance claim.

Prosecutor Andrew Jackson said: “The hike in their premiums would have been so that their fledgling business may not have survived. So in order to keep the business afloat they simply couldn’t afford to make an insurance claim.

“They have had to bear the loss.”

Sentencing Judge John Lodge said: “This was a serious organised offence. You knew precisely what you were doing. The others distracted the shopkeeper whilst you stole goods of a high value. It’s particularly aggravating that whilst the item was of high value you abused a child whereby you expected that child to be part of the offence.”

Muntean, of St Margarets Terrace, Woolwich, London, who still denies responsibility for the theft, was sentenced to nine months in prison suspended for 18 months. She will have to complete 200 hours community service, abide by a curfew to remain at her home between 10pm and 7am monitored by an electronic tag for 18 weeks, and comply with a Prohibited Steps Order prohibiting her from entering any jewellery shops for 12 months. She will also have to pay the shop owners compensation of �1200, paid in monthly �100 instalments. He agreed to suspend the sentence because of her age, responsibility to her two young children - aged two years and four months, and one year and two months, and the offence being almost 20months old.

It is believed the diamond has not been recovered.