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£14 Million Hatton Garden Heist "Biggest Burglary In English History", Court Hears

The trial of four men for their alleged involvement in the crime is taking place in London this week.

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The £14 million jewel theft in London's Hatton Garden was the "biggest burglary in English history", a court heard on Monday.

Metropolitan Police / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The tunnel leading into the vault at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company which was burgled over Easter weekend 2015

Four men accused of plotting the raid, or concealing millions of pounds' worth of stolen goods, appeared at Woolwich crown court.

Three of the men are being tried on charges of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to convert criminal property. They are:

* William Lincoln, 60, from Bethnal Green, east London

* Carl Wood, 58, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire

* John Harbinson, 42, from Benfleet, Essex

With a fourth man, Hugh Doyle, 48, from Enfield, north London, they also face the charge of conspiracy to concealment, disguising or converting of stolen goods, and Doyle is further charged with actually concealing the goods.

Doyle was previously accused of taking part in the burglary, but that charge against him was dropped.

All four deny the charges. Four other men have already pleaded guilty to their involvement in the heist.

On 2 April, during Easter weekend this year, a gang entered the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company in London's jewellery district and broke into its vault, where 72 of 999 deposit boxes were ransacked.

Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE

A police forensics officer enters the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company on 7 April, 2015.

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Police said at the time of the raid that a diamond-tipped drill was used to bore a hole in the vault wall 51cm deep, 25cm high, and 46cm wide.

The gang allegedly worked together in planning the raid in meticulous detail and carried out several scouting missions, the jury heard on the opening day of the trial.

Elizabeth Cook / PA WIRE

(left to right) Carl Wood, William Lincoln, Jon Harbinson, and Hugh Doyle at Woolwich crown court.

The court heard that the men, dressed as workmen in hard hats and hi-visibility jackets, were let in by a man identified in court only as "Basil".

Brian Reader was wearing a high-visibility jacket with GAS written on it. The men took in bags, wheelie bins and metal joists #hattongarden

Phillip Evans, prosecuting, alleged that the raid was planned to a professional level. While inside, the four maintained phone "radio silence".

While the gang were at #HattonGarden they went into a "radio silence" and stopped using their mobile phones.

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Then they disabled the lift at the second floor, placed an "out of order" note on it, and climbed down to the basement, the court heard.

Once the men have disabled the lift at the 2nd floor they climb down the lift shaft to the basement. #hattongarden

Before allegedly disabling the building's CCTV.

The gang then attacked HGSD's alarm system in an attempt to disable it. #HattonGarden h

They left "no forensic trace", the court heard.

Hatton Garden burglars left no "forensic trace" at the scene, jurors told.

Brian Reader, described as "the master" of the group, who already pleaded guilty to his part in the theft in September, took the 96 and 55 buses to the scene of the crime.

Reader, aka 'The Master', caught the 96 bus, train to Waterloo East and 55 bus on his way to #HattonGarden on day of heist.

Evans told the court that a jeweller who runs a nearby shop said he felt "uneasy" and that vehicles were watching him.

"The prosecution's case is that he was right," he said, according to the Mirror.

"Long before what happened during two different nights in early April, these defendants met frequently, very often on a Friday, to discuss how the burglary was to be successfully carried off."

Evans said that police used mobile phone data to pinpoint the location of those suspected of taking part in the raid to the Castle pub on Pentonville Road, in nearby Islington, where it's alleged they discussed their plans.

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These were: Terry Perkins, 67, from Enfield; John Collins, 74, from Islington, north London; Daniel Jones, 58, also from Enfield; and Brian Reader, 76, from Dartford, Kent.

Charges against one man, Paul Reader, 50, from Dartford, were dropped last week.

Brian Reader, the oldest of the group, took charge of the operation, the court heard on Monday. When police raided his hoime they found books on diamonds and a diamond tester.

When police raided the home of Daniel Jones, they found a copy of Forensics for Dummies.

Evans told the jury that these four "ringleaders" had experience of pulling off "sophisticated" crimes like this in the past.

"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," Evans said, according to the Press Association.

"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 of the last century, and the other two had for many years in their earlier lives been involved in serious theft."

Patrick Smith is a senior reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Patrick Smith at patrick.smith@buzzfeed.com.

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