Baggage handler caught with Duchess's gems

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The Independent Online
A baggage handler at New York's Kennedy Airport appeared in court yesterday on theft charges after the Duchess of York's jewellery was found in a garden shed and a locker.

The Federal Bureau of Investigations confirmed that both the lost items, a bracelet and a necklace, believed to be worth pounds 250,000 and given to the Duchess by the Queen as a wedding present, had been retrieved. Five small diamonds were found missing from the necklace, however.

Gilbert Terrero, 19, an employee of Hudson General company, the baggage handling agent for British Airways at Kennedy Airport, was charged with "theft from an interstate shipment". No plea was taken and Mr Terrero was released on $75,000 (pounds 50.000) bail. He could face 10 years in jail.

Mr Terrero led investigators to the jewels after being questioned on Tuesday by BA and FBI security agents. He took them to his home in Queens, New York, where the necklace had been hidden in a shed. The bracelet was later found in his locker at the airport.

The jewellery had been in a small bag which, according to BA officials, the Duchess had initially taken on board Concorde as carry-on baggage for her flight to London on Monday evening. She then changed her mind and gave it to her lady-in-waiting, Jane Dunn-Butler, who was travelling on a later, sub-sonic flight to Heathrow. Miss Dunn-Butler checked the bag into her plane's hold.

Officials at both BA and the FBI were surprised at the way the bag had been passed around and then stowed. "I would not put something of that value in the hold," said James Kallstrom, an FBI assistant director.

Once checked in by the lady-in-waiting, the bag was the last to enter the jumbo-jet's hold before departure. A BA spokeman said it was a tempting target because it was a bag without a lock.