Bungling Flying Squad detectives raided an innocent chauffeur’s home and held him down on a chair because they mistakenly thought he was selling jewellery stolen in a £25million raid on Tamara Ecclestone’s mansion.
Paul Carton bought a ring in 2013 that had been owned by the socialite and listed it for sale online last year.
Police were convinced that the 57-year-old had been involved in Britain’s biggest ever domestic burglary in December 2019 and undercover officers targeted the driver by posing as prospective buyers.
Once inside his Dorset home, the officers opened his door to allow eight colleagues to storm in to tackle Mr Carton to the floor, handcuffing him, binding his legs with plastic ties and holding him down on a chair while the house was searched for more jewels.
Mr Carton said he thought he was being robbed and fought for his life against the plain clothes officers. The father-of-three suffered a broken tooth, injured back and cuts and bruises. He said he spent hours bound with handcuffs and plastic ties in his living room as officers bagged up and removed jewellery.
Taking legal action: Paul Carton
Fighting back tears, Mr Carton recalled: ‘It was agony, the handcuffs cutting into my hands while I could hear them moving around my house. I still didn’t think they were police, I feared for my life. My house was a wreck. The experience has left me so shaken.’
Mr Carton was taken to Weymouth police station and arrested for handling stolen goods and assaulting an emergency worker. He admits that he struck an officer in the face when the group had burst into his home.
Mr Carton said he was told Miss Ecclestone had identified the ring as one stolen in the December 2019 raid on her mansion in Kensington, west London, in which cash and jewels were stolen. The chauffeur said he explained he had bought the ring six years before the burglary, but spent three hours in a cell before being released under investigation.
He has since been told no further action will be taken.
Mr Carton had bought the ring mount for £1,000 from luxury fashion seller Nikki Bradford Morton, who sells on items no longer wanted by the Ecclestone family.
Proud: Tamara Ecclestone sports the diamond ring
It is understood the ring, which originally held an eight-carat diamond, had been given to Miss Ecclestone by a boyfriend, Omar Khyami. She was seen wearing the ring on her 27th birthday in 2011.
The heiress is thought to have removed the diamond and offloaded the ring once the couple split in 2012. Mr Carton said he listed the diamond encrusted ring mount for sale for £15,000 last year, saying it had belonged to ‘a famous socialite’.
He received a message from ‘Andrea Biro,’ who asked if she and her boyfriend could see the ring at his home. He met the pair there but while he was fetching other items they opened his front door to allow the other officers inside.
Mr Carton said the first to confront him was a 6ft 8in man wearing jeans and a camouflage jacket who shouted ‘police’ and spread his arms out to grab him.
‘I didn’t believe he was police, I was convinced I was being robbed,’ Mr Carton said. ‘I fought for my life and I did punch him in the face.
‘If they had come in uniform, and explained the situation we could have sorted the misunderstanding out.’
The raid took place shortly after midday on June 21 last year and Mr Carton said he wasn’t released from custody for more than ten hours.
The ring: Bought by Mr Carton in 2013
He said he was in handcuffs for more than four hours and spent three hours in a cell while officers went round his ex-partner’s home to check his claims they had bought the ring in 2013.
Mr Carton said he did not know if Miss Ecclestone knew of the raid or if she had been consulted about the ring. ‘You’d think she’d remember whether she sold it.’
Mr Carton has made a formal complaint and plans legal action. He said he is yet to receive an apology. His claim for property damaged at his home was rejected as he was ‘resisting arrest’.
A police spokesman said Mr Carlton’s complaint ‘is under investigation’, adding: ‘We are unable to comment while this is ongoing.’
Three men were jailed last November over the raids on Miss Ecclestone’s mansion and other people’s homes.
Italian nationals Jugoslav Jovanovic, 24, Alessandro Maltese, 44, and Alessandro Donati, 45, were sentenced to a total of 28 years. The ring leader, Ljubomir Radosavljevic, remains at large.
Amost none of the loot has been recovered. Mr Carton has launched a GoFundMe page to fund his legal action.