Hatton Garden raid 'master withdrew after vault access denied'

Hatton Garden Safety Deposit exterior Image copyright PA
Image caption Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd was breached over the Easter weekend

The mastermind behind the Hatton Garden raid pulled out of the heist after failing to complete the task in one night, a court heard.

Brian Reader, 76, dubbed the "Master" by co-conspirators, withdrew from England's "largest burglary" when the gang struggled to get into the vault.

Up to £14m was looted from safety deposit boxes in London's jewellery quarter two days later on 4 April.

Reader admits conspiracy to commit burglary. Three others deny the charge.

A fourth man denies conspiracy to conceal or transfer criminal property.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption The burglars returned to the vault after being foiled by a metal cabinet which was bolted to the floor, the court was told

The gang drilled into the secure premises on 2 April but discovered the vault was blocked off by a metal cabinet, bolted to the floor on the other side, Woolwich Crown Court heard.

The men returned with different equipment two nights later to finish the job.

Once inside the vault, the thieves ransacked 73 of the 999 safe deposit boxes within it.

Reader was not with them when they made off with the loot, which was later hidden in two wheelie bins and stashed in holdalls.

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

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.

On 3 April, Jones and Collins travelled to Twickenham in south west London to buy specialist equipment in order to complete the raid, jurors were told.

They went into two shops, Machine Mart and D&M Tools, and the former had records of selling a pump and hose to a "Jones", who gave his own address.

The court heard the parts of the pump resembled those of another left behind at the scene of the burglary.

Image copyright Met Police
Image caption Terry Perkins, John Collins, Daniel Jones and Brian Reader pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle

Following a series of phone calls between the men, Collins then drove Jones and one of the accused, Carl Wood, to Hatton Garden at about 21.20 BST.

'In the know'

Prosecuting, Philip Evans said: "Brian Reader, on this occasion, was nowhere to be seen and it appears that he had decided he no longer wanted any part in the activities at Hatton Garden."

Sterling Road, linked to Terry Perkins

  • Three holdalls stuffed with a "vast quantity" of jewels, including sapphires and diamonds
  • Breitling, Omega, Tag Heuer and Rolex watches
  • Ruby and emerald rings worth £15,000 each, earrings, necklaces, bangles and brooches

Edmonton Cemetery, where police were led to the location by Daniel Jones

  • Two bags containing a "large quantity" of jewellery and packets of precious stones buried under the memorial stone of Sidney James Hart
  • Gold, jewellery and more precious stones were found in a third bag under another plot, belonging to Sidney John Hart

William Lincoln's home in Winkley Street

  • Various plastic bags of jewellery, one hidden under the skirting board and one in the cupboard under the stairs
  • Banknotes stashed under the microwave

Jon Harbinson's address in Beresford Gardens

  • Containers filled with jewellery hidden under a floorboard, in a speaker and behind a kitchen cupboard
  • Two Cartier and one Loewe watch behind a kickboard in the kitchen

CCTV footage from 4 April shows Jones carrying a black holdall and a red box, believed to have contained the pump and hose he bought in Twickenham.

Mr Evans said: "Where the last attempt had been unsuccessful, the inference is that this time, with the second pump and hose, they accessed the vault by pushing over the cabinet.

"In order to do that, they used the metal joists which they had taken in on the first night to anchor the pump and hose on the wall opposite the vault."

Mr Evans outlined how one of the alleged get-away drivers, William Lincoln, was connected to the conspiracy plot by ferrying other gang members to meet ups.

On the night of the aborted break-in, Reader was allegedly driven from Collins's home to London Bridge station by Mr Lincoln.

Wheelie bin stash

"The timing of these visits, generated as they are by short calls which were simply not long enough for Collins to have explained the plan, demonstrate that Lincoln was 'in the know' before the burglary took place, and he had therefore entered the agreement before 07.30 BST on the 5 April," Mr Evans said.

The court heard after the raid - the "largest burglary in English legal history" - the gang stored the loot in two wheelie bins and some holdalls. Some was also hidden behind skirting boards and inside kitchen cupboards in their own homes.

The plan was to convert the stolen goods into money, but initially they divided the proceeds between them, with the intention of keeping it hidden until publicity surrounding the heist died down, it was said.

"When they were confident that had happened, they could split it up, melt it down, sell it or hide for a rainy day," Mr Evans said.

Jurors heard part of the bounty was sold for sizeable sums of money and two bags of jewellery had been hidden beneath the grave marker of one of Jones's relative in a cemetery in Edmonton.

Half truths

Officers swooped during one of the loot transfers to Mr Harbinson on 19 May.

In the days before, police recording devices picked up Perkins boasting about the historic feat, saying: "And what a book you could write."

He also described how some of the stolen "Indian" gold would fund his pension.

Jones led police to find one small bag of gold and jewellery hidden in the cemetery but neglected to inform them of another, larger stash.

Mr Evans said: "He was hoping if he gave up the smaller quantity at plot GB177 he would still have access to the larger stash of criminal property, no doubt for his future use."

The trial continues.

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