Jewellery raid 'was inside job'

The manager of an exclusive jewellery store yesterday denied that a £40m armed robbery on his premises was an "inside job" in which he had been involved.

Martin Leggatt was the manager of the Graff Diamonds store in Mayfair when it was targeted by an armed gang in August last year. At Woolwich Crown Court yesterday, it was put to Mr Leggatt that he had known about it in advance.

Courtenay Griffiths QC, for one of the defendants, told the jury that six other robberies had targeted Graff stores since 1980, some of which involved the use of clever disguises – a ploy the criminals also used during the heist at Mr Leggatt's store. He also raised the suggestion that the robbery was set up to enable an insurance claim following poor diamond sales and a fall of share prices.

Mr Griffiths said: "I am going to suggest that this robbery in August of last year was an 'inside job' and that you were involved in it. That's why I'm asking you about these previous robberies."

Mr Leggatt replied: "I would be absolutely fascinated to hear your evidence for that."

Mr Griffiths suggested the jewellers were "specialists in being robbed" and that the owner Laurence Graff had "recurring bad luck". "He just seems to be getting robbed all the time of millions of pounds of jewels," he added. Mr Leggatt replied: "Thank you for your sympathy, sir". He was then asked if he had been paid a bonus after the robbery, and said he had not.

He was also asked why it took the security guards three minutes to press the alarm button. Mr Griffiths suggested they had agreed not to call police until "after this set-up robbery has taken place". Mr Leggatt denied this, adding: "I feel it's not fair for you to make these accusations without telling everyone in this room what this conspiracy theory is."

Aman Kassaye, 24, Craig Calderwood, 27, and seven others deny conspiring to rob.

The trial continues.

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