Hatton Garden heist ringleaders involved in 'some of the biggest crimes of the last century'

The police have recovered about one third of the reported £14m losses of the raid so far

Paul Peachey
Crime Correspondent
Monday 23 November 2015 13:17 GMT
The hole drilled in the vault wall at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Limited following the Easter weekend robbery in April
The hole drilled in the vault wall at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Limited following the Easter weekend robbery in April (Getty)

The ringleaders of the Hatton Garden jewellery heist were involved in some of the country’s biggest crimes before netting about £14m in the largest burglary in English legal history, a court heard today.

The oldest man on the job - Brian Reader, 76 - was known as “The Master” or “The Governor” and had been involved in planning and was in the safety deposit centre on the first night of the raid over the Easter weekend, Woolwich Crown Court was told.

Members of the group made regular visits to Hatton Garden and met up at a north London pub in the run-up to the raid, the court heard. Burglars then broke into the basement vault at Hatton Garden Safety Deposit Ltd and ransacked 73 safety deposit boxes mainly used by jewellers to store their goods..

Reader and three other men with a great deal of experience in sophisticated crimes have already pleaded guilty to their role in the raid which saw CCTV systems ripped out and no forensic traces left by the group, the court heard. Only about one third of the jewels, gold, cash and precious stones stolen have been recovered. Calculations continue on the scale of the losses.

The ringleaders aged from 60 to 76 brought in four men – allegedly those who went on trial today - to help with the operation, said Philip Evans, opening the case for the prosecution.

"These four ringleaders and organisers of this conspiracy, although senior in years, brought with them a great deal of experience in planning and executing sophisticated and serious acquisitive crime not dissimilar to this," said Mr Evans.

"This offence was to be the largest burglary in English legal history.”

"Two of these men had also been involved in some of the biggest acquisitive crime in this country in the last century and the other two had for many years in their earlier lives been involved in serious theft,” said Mr Evans.

When Reader’s home – a substantial detached property - was later searched by police, they seized a book on the diamond underworld, a diamond tester and magazines on the trade, the court heard.

Another of the ringleaders, John Collins, 74, known as Kenny, visited Hatton Garden a number of times in run-up to the burglary and is alleged to have recruited three of the men on trial.

Daniel Jones, 60, was “at the heart of the extensive planning” and had regular meetings with others involved in the plot, the court heard. They usually met on Friday nights in places including The Castle pub in Islington, north London. The other ringleader was named as Terry Perkins, 67.

Mr Evans said that with their experience, the ringleaders would have only brought in people that could have been trusted to help them with the job.

Carl Wood, 58, of Cheshunt, Hertfordshire; William Lincoln, 60, of Bethnal Green, east London; and Jon Harbinson, 42, of Benfleet, Essex, are charged with conspiracy to commit burglary between May 17 2014 and 7.30am on April 5 this year.

Hugh Doyle, 48, of Enfield, north London, is jointly charged with them on one count of conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property between January 1 and May 19 this year.

He also faces an alternative charge of concealing, converting or transferring criminal property between April 1 and May 19 this year.

They all deny the charges at Woolwich Crown Court in south east London.

John Collins, 74, of Islington; Daniel Jones, 60, of Enfield; Terry Perkins, 67, of Enfield; and Brian Reader, 76, of Dartford, have all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

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