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Hatton Garden heist: Police hunt for final thief 'Basil'

With nine people convicted for the £14m raid, police attention switched to man whose identity remains unknown

Paul Peachey,David Connett
Thursday 14 January 2016 22:49 GMT
Hatton Garden Heist CCTV

Scotland Yard have offered a £20,000 reward for help to track down the mysterious “Basil” – the sole remaining Hatton Garden raider at large with more than £10m from Britain’s biggest ever burglary.

With nine people convicted for the £14m raid, police attention switched to the red-headed man whose identity remains unknown and who wandered off into the night after playing a central role in the heist.

As a jury convicted three of the minor players of involvement in the raid and its aftermath, it can be revealed that the ringleaders include a man cleared of the murder of an undercover police officer investigating the £26m Brink’s Mat gold bullion raid in 1983.

Brian Reader was acquitted of killing DC John Fordham after the officer was stabbed to death in the back garden of Reader’s partner-in-crime, gangster and road rage killer Kenneth Noye, while they were being watched trying to sell on the bullion.

Reader, 76, and Terry Perkins, 67, who was jailed for his role in Britain’s biggest cash robbery in 1983, helped to gather seven experienced criminals and long-standing acquaintances – dubbed the “Bad Grandpas” in court – for one last hurrah.

Clockwise from top left: Brian Reader, Daniel Jones, John Collins, Carl Wood, William Lincoln, Hugh Doyle and Terry Perkins (AFP/PA)

One of the most prominent figures in the burglary, Danny Jones, 60, had researched ways of breaking into vaults from at least as far back as 2012 and was suspected of involvement in a similar plot in London’s Bond Street that remains under investigation.

Detective Superintendent Craig Turner, of Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad, said: “They were career criminals. They were very callous and they had a long history of criminal behaviour.”

A trial of four men has heard that victims were left with losses of hundreds of thousands of pounds. One long-standing Hatton Garden pawnbroker died from cancer a couple of weeks after his security box was cleared out by the gang. The raiders are believed to have sent the most valuable jewels out of the country within hours of the raid.

The man called Basil by the plotters during conversations captured by police bugs has not been identified despite officers’ viewing 1,200 hours of CCTV footage.

The gang had meticulously prepared for the raid with no forensic traces left inside the vault. They escaped with jewels, bullion and cash, hauled from the vault in wheelie bins after successfully overcoming the dated security systems.

Police said they had no evidence of insider involvement, though one long-serving security guard told the trial that the raiders appeared to have detailed information about its security systems.

They were caught after a string of blunders that included using one of their own cars to get to Hatton Gardens and bragging about the crime while under police surveillance. Police have recovered only £3.7m proceeds from the burglary. The biggest and most valuable stones have not been found.

The jury convicted Carl Wood, 58, of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, who abandoned the team after a first failed attempt at breaking into the vault. William Lincoln, 60, a getaway driver with two false hips, was also convicted of conspiracy to burgle and of hiding the stolen property. Plumber Hugh Doyle, 48, of Enfield, north London, was convicted of hiding the stolen jewels and gold.

Ringleaders, John “Kenny” Collins, 75; Jones, 60; Perkins, and Reader, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary last September, and face up to 10 years in prison.

Jon Harbinson, 42, a taxi driver from Benfleet, Essex, was cleared of involvement after being accused of moving around goods stolen from the Easter holiday weekend raid last year.

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