Police 'kept watch on Dome raiders for five months'

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The Independent Online

A gang accused of attempting to steal £200m worth of diamonds from the Millennium Dome were under police surveillance for five months before the foiled robbery, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

A gang accused of attempting to steal £200m worth of diamonds from the Millennium Dome were under police surveillance for five months before the foiled robbery, the Old Bailey heard yesterday.

Jurors were shown video footage of an alleged gang member who filmed the display of 12 De Beers diamonds inside the tourist attraction at Greenwich, south-east London, during an alleged reconnaissance mission.

For five months, the police also used surveillance cameras to monitor two farms in Kent and a disused commercial premises in Plumstead, south-east London, where the robbery was allegedly being planned.

The raid, in which four men smashed their way into the Dome using an earthmover in November last year, would have been the world's biggest robbery but the police caught the gang red-handed, the jury was told.

Details of the police surveillance were disclosed on the second day of the trial of six men accused of conspiring to steal the diamonds.

Jurors watched footage of William Cockran visiting the Dome with a woman and a child, allegedly posing as tourists. He went to the exhibition on three occasions.

Another alleged gang member, who cannot be named, was also filmed visiting the gem exhibit. Martin Heslop QC for the prosecution, said: "Of course he might just have gone out of interest but you will see on a number of times he went into the Dome and the diamond vaults and the particular interest he played to the cabinets in which the diamonds were held."

The film also showed the man examining the gate which was later smashed through.

The alleged robbers were hoping to get away with the 775-carat Millennium Star diamond and 11 blue diamonds, which were housed in two reinforced cabinets. They planned to get away on a speedboat moored nearby, the court was told.

Mr Cockran, 49, from Catford, south-east London, Aldo Ciarrocchi, 32, from Bermondsey, south-east London, Robert Adams, 58, from north London and Raymond Betson, 40, of Chatham, Kent were on board the JCB as it careered into the Dome, the jury heard.

Kevin Meredith, 35, from Brighton, was waiting in the speedboat and Wayne Taylor, 35, from Tonbridge, Kent, helped plan the robbery, it was alleged. The trial continues.