Aristocrat jailed for spitefully trashing his £1 million home to stop it being sold after bitter divorce

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The grandson of a Baronet who wrecked his own £1 million house in a spiteful attempt to stop it being sold following his acrimonious divorce has been jailed for 18 months. 

Desmond Fitzgerald, 63, ripped out radiators, smashed furniture, pictures, and ornaments with a hammer, and wrenched lamps off the walls in a destruction spree at the luxury terraced house in Kings Cross. 

He then blocked a sink and left the running water to flood the home he had shared with his ex-wife, lawyer Catherine Akester, Blackfriars crown court heard. 

Fitzgerald, whose grandfather was military hero Major General Sir Allan Henry Shafto Adair, the 6th Baronet Adair, also tore to shreds one of Ms Akester’s family photos during the rampage. 

He stormed over to the home shortly after being told at a divorce hearing at Central London County Court on October 3 last year that the property would be sold. 

Jailing him for 18 months today, Recorder Davinder Gill said Fitzgerald had deliberately defied a judge’s order to stay away from the property in Medburn Street which he had shared with Ms Akester since 1994. 

“This crime strikes at the heart of the system of justice,” she said. 

“I have no doubt you were in a blind rage when you realised your attempts to prevent the sale of the property had finally come to an end. So you decided to embark on a criminal act. 

“It was not only revenge and retribution on your former wife but also in defiance of the family court.”

Medburn Street, where the spree took place

The judge found Fitzgerald had planned the destruction and was “determined to embark upon that course of action”. 

“You knew what you were doing, and you had the insight and forethought to remove your belongings from the premises and then proceeded to cause substantial criminal damage”, she added. 

Fitzgerald, who insisted he had been framed throughout his trial, left behind bloody fingerprints proving he was responsible for the damage, valued at more than £21,000. 

Describing the “scene of some devastation” that she found, Ms Akester told the court: “Almost all the kitchen ceiling was down, with bricks and ceiling all over the floor. 

“The radiators had been pulled out through the house, lamps had been pulled off the wall, furniture and pictures had been smashed with a hammer which was still there.”

Fitzgerald deliberately blocked the bathroom sink with a towel to flood the home, and tore her family photo into “tiny, tiny shreds” so it was beyond repair.

“I found that extremely hurtful, it was very malicious, it was unnecessary,” added Ms Akester. 

Fitzgerald shunned legal representation at trial, defending himself, and launched an array of applications in an attempt to derail the criminal proceedings. 

Catherine Akester said a family photo was torn into ‘tiny tiny shreds’ (Tristan Kirk)

But the judge on Wednesday attacked his “aggressive and arrogant” attitude that meant she had to appoint a barrister to question Ms Akester on Fitzgerald’s behalf for her own protection. 

“You made several applications, some ludicrous, during the course of the trial, adopting a hectoring attitude not only to the witnesses you were allowed to question but also to me as the trial judge when I delivered judgements that went against you,” she added.  

Fitzgerald, who wore a brightly coloured spotted tie and a dark suit, simply raised his eyebrows as the sentence was passed. 

His barrister, Karlia Lykourgon, argued Fitzgerald had been under “enormous emotional stress” when he committed the crime and argued for a suspended prison sentence. 

But the judge ruled the damage had been pre-planned and only an immediate prison sentence could be passed. 

Fitzgerald, who has already spent more than a month behind bars while awaiting sentence, had been temporarily homeless during his trial and seeking help from Crisis. 

The court heard his personal wealth has dwindled thanks to a long-running civil dispute over his aunt’s estate in Ireland. 

He will be freed after nine months of his prison sentence and subject to a three-month of supervision. He is also banned indefinitely from contacting Ms Akester under a restraining order. 

Fitzgerald denied but was convicted of destroying property. 

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