Spanish judges handed out prison terms to Priscila Guevara, a former Mexican beauty contestant, and her Dutch-Romanian partner, Constantín Dumitru, after the pair went on trial in Madrid over the restaurant wine heist.
Guevara, 28, and Dumitru, 49, were sentenced to four years and four-and-a-half years in prison respectively, reported Spanish newspaper El Pais. They were also ordered to pay insurers more than €750,000 in damages.
The couple, who lived in Madrid, were arrested in Croatia nine months after 45 bottles of fine wine went missing from three-Michelin-star Atrio hotel and restaurant in Cáceres in October 2021.
Initial estimates said the stolen wine was worth €1.6m (£1.4m, $1.7m), although a legal court expert in Spain reduced this to €750,000 prior to sentencing.
Wines stolen included an extremely rare Château d’Yquem 1806, and the bottles’ whereabouts remains a mystery.
Reports in Spain said the couple had visited Atrio three times before Guevara used a fake Swiss passport to make a reservation at the hotel.
In court hearings held on 27 February and 1 March prior to the ruling, Spanish police said DNA of the couple, who are understood to have worn masks and wigs, had been found in their hotel room.
Dumitru is thought to have taken a master key card from reception after his partner had managed to distract the hotel’s receptionist by ordering food in the early hours of 27 October, 2021. Court documents accused the man of entering the cellar and placing 45 bottles into a large rucksack and two large sport bags.
The couple checked out of the hotel at about 5am, with the wines wrapped in towels inside the bags ‘to prevent the bottles from clinking against each other’, a court statement said.
However, defence lawyer Sylvia Cordoba said her clients were innocent.
A prosecutor said he was unable to provide material evidence of the robbery, and Cordoba said, ‘45 bottles do not fit into two sports bags’. The couple can appeal against the court’s judgement, El Pais reported.
It is understood there were no security cameras in the restaurant’s wine cellar where the robbery took place. Speaking in court on 1 March, Dumitru reportedly said: ‘If I am the thief, then where have I put the bottles?’
José Polo, sommelier and co-owner of the Atrio restaurant hotel restaurant, was not immediately available for comment today (7 March).
Polo previously launched an appeal to try to find the stolen wines. Prior the court case, Polo had successfully, negotiated a pay-out claim for the stolen wine with his insurance company.
There have been several fine wine heists at top restaurants across Europe in recent years.
In November 2022, thieves stole fine wine with an estimated value of more than €150,000 from two-Michelin-star Coque restaurant in Madrid. There has been no suggestion that the Atrio and Coque cases are directly connected.
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Source : https://www.decanter.com/wine-news/couple-jailed-for-fine-wine-heist-at-spains-atrio-restaurant-498991/