London

Hatton Garden raid 'largest in English history'

The Hatton Gardens defendants L-R Carl Wood, William Lincoln, Jon Harbinson and Hugh Doyle Image copyright Julia Quenzler
Image caption Carl Wood, William Lincoln, Jon Harbinson and Hugh Doyle are standing trial in connection with the burglary

The Hatton Garden jewel raid was the "largest burglary in English legal history", a court has been told.

Jewels and precious metals estimated at £14m were taken when raiders bored through a wall into a vault.

The raid was planned on Friday nights at a pub and took place over the Easter weekend, in London's jewellery quarter, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

Three men deny conspiracy to commit burglary. A fourth denies conspiracy to conceal or transfer criminal property.

Jurors were shown CCTV footage of men arriving in a white van, and from it unloading various tools, bags, metal joists and wheelie bins.

They heard that while at Hatton Garden, the men used walkie-talkies to communicate, and their mobile phones were in "radio silence".

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The vault at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd was breached over the Easter weekend

Once inside, the men used the lift shaft to access the basement, disabled the alarm and drilled into the vault wall.

Inside the vault, raiders ransacked safety deposit boxes used by traders of jewellery, precious stones and precious metals.

Prosecutor Philip Evans told jurors "this offence was to be the largest burglary in English legal history".

He said "at best" about one third of the property had been recovered and that was mostly lower-value goods.


Defendants and charges

  • Carl Wood, 58, of Elderbeck Close, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire: Charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property
  • William Lincoln, 60, of Winkley Street, Bethnal Green: Charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property
  • Jon Harbinson, 42, of Beresford Gardens, Benfleet, Essex: Charged with conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property
  • Hugh Doyle, 48, of Riverside Gardens, Enfield: Charged with conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property and faces an alternative charge of concealing, converting or transferring criminal property

The thieves bored a hole 20in (51cm) deep, 10in (25cm) high and 18in (46cm) wide through a wall at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company.

There was evidence the search for suitable equipment might have started four years ago.

The jury was shown 3D-images that revealed other damage the burglars caused.

That included broken doors and gates, and the shutter to the basement lift access which had been prised open.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The burglars caused damage to the vault including broken doors and gates

The burglary spanned the weekend, with the raiders returning on 4 April with more equipment, after they were only partially successful on 2 April, jurors heard.

They were told much of the evidence had come from mobile and landline telephone data, and that the burglars had left no "forensic trace".

Mr Evans said the burglary was arranged during Friday night meetings at The Castle pub on Pentonville Road in Islington, north London.

Previously John Collins, 75, of Bletsoe Walk, Islington; Daniel Jones, 58, of Park Avenue, Enfield; Terry Perkins, 67, of Heene Road, Enfield and Brian Reader, 76, of Dartford Road, Dartford, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

They will be sentenced at a later date.

Reader was described as the "Governor" or the "Master", and had been heavily involved in the planning of the raid, the court heard.

A book called "Forensics For Dummies" was found at Jones's house.

Mr Evans said they were the ringleaders and had "a great deal of experience" in planning and executing sophisticated crimes.

He said they would only have involved others who could be "fully trusted".

The trial continues.

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