London

Hatton Garden raid: Jeweller blamed caretaker for leaving door open during raid

A jeweller who worked in the London building targeted in a £14m jewel heist has told a court he thought a caretaker had left the door open.

Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd was raided over the Easter weekend.

Lionel Wiffen told Woolwich Crown Court he found the fire escape open twice and "crept around" but found nothing unusual, blaming the caretaker.

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

Mr Wiffen said he visited his office on the morning of 3 April and found the fire escape ajar, which had never previously occurred.

He said he "crept in" to "have a look around" but found nothing unusual and made sure he locked it when he left.

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

But the following morning he said he found it "open again".

"I thought I'll have a go at the caretaker, and find out who he's given a key to," he said.

Previously Det Con Jamie Day, the first Flying Squad officer to arrive on the scene, said the only CCTV camera in the building caught footage of a man, identified only as "Basil", allowing access to the building via a fire escape from the inside.

Shortly afterwards other men could be seen entering the building carrying tools, wheelie bins and other equipment.

Mr Wiffen also told the court "there seemed to be a lot of cars parked with people in it...looking over" in the months before the burglary.

The trial continues.


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 Reader, of Dartford Road, Dartford, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

They will be sentenced at a later date.


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

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