A woman accused of swapping £4.2million worth of diamonds for pebbles at a luxury jewellers was filmed on CCTV examining the shop the day before the theft, a court heard.
Lulu Lakatos, 60, pretended to be a gemmologist called ‘Anna’ hired by wealthy Russian businessmen seeking to purchase the precious stones from Boodles in Mayfair in 2016, jurors were told.
She allegedly used “sleight of hand” to replace the gems – just one of which was worth £2,215,138 – with pebbles.
Cricklewood Lodge Hotel manager Anu Grewal said: “As soon as I was given the description, two women leapt to my mind.
“The first woman was in her fifties, of a larger build, and looked Eastern European. The impression she gave as she chatted is she could understand English, but not speak it.”
Jurors watched as CCTV footage of the woman alleged to be Lakatos checked into the hotel on March 9, 2016, the day before the heist.
A woman then got into a grey Citroen car late in the evening with two men, Mickael Jovanovic and Christophe Stankovic, who jurors were told earlier admitted conspiracy to steal.
The grey Citroen then was filmed on CCTV stopping opposite Boodles, before returning to Cricklewood and dropping ‘Anna’ off at the hotel.
Boodles chairman Nicholas Wainwright watched as she examined the stones but even he could not prevent her using sleight of hand to swap the bag of jewels for an identical bag containing pebbles, Southwark crown court heard.
Mr Wainwright said in a statement read to the court yesterday: “‘Anna’ looked strange.
“She didn’t look at the stones through an eyeglass, as a gemologist might do, and she didn’t check their certificates.
“When I finished my call with Alexander, Emma looked a little bit frightened. She said ‘Anna’ had put the bag into her handbag.
“I thought: ‘Why on earth would she put them in her bag?
“I said: ‘Do you mind if I look in your bag, please?’
“I had a look in her bag for about 3 seconds but couldn’t see anything.
“‘Anna’ was most unattractive, she was overweight, she was dressed most extraordinarily, she was wearing the sort of thing a Russian dancer would wear.
“She had enormous boobs and you could see her cleavage, it was most unattractive.”
Lakatos was born in Arade, Romania and has Romanian and Hungarian citizenship.
She was arrested in France on September 24 last year and extradited to the UK to stand trial on 3 December.
Boodles staff discovered the stones in the bag were worthless pebbles the following day after Ms Barton expressed concern about ‘Anna’s’ behaviour.
Lakatos, last living in Saint Brieuc, Brittany, France, denies conspiracy to steal between February 15 and March 11, 2016.
The trial continues.