Published: 16:37, 13 July 2018
| Updated: 16:43, 13 July 2018
Two men have been jailed over the burglary and ransacking of a reality star’s home and theft of her expensive car.
The Only Way Is Essex and Ex on the Beach personality Nicole Bass was on holiday in Las Vegas when her flat was broken into and trashed.
Nicholas Cato, who admitted burglary and theft, was sentenced to two years. Jayd Gordon, who was convicted of theft and cleared of burglary, was jailed for 12 months.
The judge accepted Cato’s basis of plea that he did not actually enter the flat but he had gone there with Gordon knowing the victim would not be there and the “spoils” included a high value car.
In a victim statement, Ms Bass said the burlgary had affected her hugely and she was convinced she had been targeted "because of the fact I have been on television".
Judge Philip St John-Stevens said: “The effect of the burglary was traumatic.
“That should not be lost. Nicole Bass returned home early from holiday to find the front door of her apartment damaged.
“Not only was considerable value in clothing as well as the car taken, there was a considerable amount of damage.
“She described paint thrown around in a gratuitous way, including over photographs. Soft toys had heads either cut off or pulled off.
“It must have been horrific for her to her flat in the way it was. Her personal space and home were violated.”
“She described paint thrown around in a gratuitous way, including over photographs. Soft toys had heads either cut off or pulled off..." - Judge Philip St John-Stevens
The value of property stolen was £16,000 and the damage caused totalled £4,500. She did not have contents insurance.
Maidstone Crown Court heard in May Miss Bass returned to the flat in Creek Mill Way, Dartford, on June 9 last year because of an accident on holiday.
She was shocked to find her £31,500 Mercedes GLA AMG, for which she paid £6,000 up front, had gone from the underground car park and then saw the damage to her flat.
Miss Bass, who has a social media following of 500,000, said of her car being missing: “I was just completely baffed (sic). I was thinking: Where has my car gone?”
She said of the damage caused to the second floor flat: “It was trashed. It wasn’t just as if they burgled my flat, they had absolutely violated it.”
She was so upset she immediately moved out and sold her car. Property stolen included designer clothes, a Rolex watch and Pandora jewellery.
Automatic number plate recognition cameras showed the stolen car, in convoy with a VW Tiguan, was moving between Dartford and London on June 8 and 9.
The VW was stopped in Sydenham on June 13. Gordon, 30, was the driver and Cato, 31, a passenger. The car belonged to Gordon’s teacher girlfriend.
The stolen Mercedes was found in Sydenham on June 23.
Cato’s phone had pictures of some of the stolen clothes on it. Prosecutor Nina Ellin suggested they had been photographed so that they could be sold.
Gordon claimed in evidence he was not aware of Miss Bass. “I have never known about her until this trial,” he said.
He denied seeing photos of the 26-year-old reality star posing in Las Vegas on her Instagram account.
Cato, of Africa Road, Brockley, south London, admitted burglary and theft on the fourth day of the trial. Gordon, of Braidwood Road, Catford, south east London, denied both charges.
Gordon had eight previous convictions for nine offences, including a burglary in 2010. Cato had four convictions for nine offences, including handling stolen goods and wounding in 2010, for which he was jailed for three years.
Dominic Bell, for Cato, said his client’s role was simply to wait outside the flat for the key to the Mercedes to be delivered to him to steal.
“I am convinced I have been targeted because of the fact I have been on television..." - Nicole Bass
“He knew there was going to be a burglary, but no idea there was going to be any sort of ransacking or what would be stolen,” he said.
“It appears the targeting of her premises was effectively handed to them on a plate.”
Cato had lost his job as an HGV driver because of publicity about the case. He was now a mentor for a charity in Newham, East London, called Dads and Lads Sports Club, which fights deprivation and gang culture among teenagers.
Judge St John-Stevens said there were WhatsApp messages on Cato’s phone in which he was asked about Mercedes and BMW cars being available, to which he replied: “Yeah, two days.”
Two days later the flat was burgled and the Mercedes was stolen.
“What I am sure of is this vehicle was targeted,” said the judge. “The means to steal it was to burgle the address and retrieve the key.
“The reason the vehicle and premises were targeted is because it was within the knowledge of those involved that Nicole Bass had the vehicle and she was abroad.
“Each of you played a significant role. There is evidence of harm and emotional distress.
“The victim of this burglary was left in the position she didn’t feel safe in her own home, but it must be made very clear if you Nicholas Cato were to be sentenced on the basis you entered those premises and caused the ransacking, the sentence would be very different – in the range of five to six years.”
Nicole Bass said in a victim statement: “This burglary has affected me hugely. I was completely shocked by what I returned to. My flat was literally destroyed and everything was damaged.
“I moved to Kent from Essex because I thought it was nicer and safer, but I was wrong. I didn’t feel safe any more when I should feel safe in my home.
“I am convinced I have been targeted because of the fact I have been on television. I have been in two programmes popular with people. I have about half a million followers on social media and I am regularly in the papers nationally.
“It has made me consider how I promote myself in future and left me feeling really vulnerable. I am really upset about what happened. I am wary of people knowing where I live.”