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Everything You Need To Know About The £14 Million Hatton Garden Jewel Theft

Two men have been convicted of taking part in the biggest burglary in English history, while a third was found guilty of concealing stolen goods – meaning that seven men now face sentencing for the theft of gold, jewels, and cash worth £14 million.

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Three men have been convicted for their part in last year's £14 million Hatton Garden jewel theft, which has been described as the biggest burglary in English legal history.

Dominic Lipinski / PA WIRE
Met police

William Lincoln, 60, from east London, and Carl Wood, 58, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, were found guilty of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to conceal, convert, or transfer criminal property.

John Harbinson, 42, from Benfleet, Essex, was found not guilty of burglary.

A fourth defendant, Hugh Doyle, 48, was charged with conspiring to conceal, convert, or transfer criminal property, but was found guilty of an alternative charge of actually concealing, converting, or transferring criminal property.

The theft took place at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Ltd, in Hatton Garden, a central London street famous for its diamond dealers, over Easter weekend 2015.

Only half of the Metropolitan police's 5,000 evidence exhibits, worth about £3.7 million of the total haul, has been reunited with its owners.

After a seven-week trial at Woolwich crown court, the jury took just six hours to return its verdicts in a case that captured the public's imagination because of the age of the eight men involved, which was a combined 533.

But the Met's serious and organised crime unit has cautioned against treating the crimes as a light-hearted caper, stressing that the gang had a long history of criminality and represented a "dangerous" threat to Londoners.

Four men – John Collins, 74, Daniel Jones, 58, Terry Perkins, 67, and Brian Reader, 76 – described as the crime's "ringleaders" all pleaded guilty to their involvement in the heist last year.

Metropolitan Police / PA WIRE

The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) paid tribute to its team for securing the convictions, given the complexity of the evidence.

Ed Hall, a London reviewing lawyer for the CPS, said: "The four main ringleaders, a close-knit group of experienced criminals, some of whom had been involved in other high-value crimes, pleaded guilty after realising the strength of the case against them.

"As a result of this trial, three other men who played significant roles in the moving and concealing of the stolen gold and jewels have also been convicted."

Detective Superintendent Craig Turner, head of the Met's Flying Squad, said: "This was a thorough and complicated investigation, which meticulously linked the gang together. The weight of evidence was so strong that half the gang chose to plead guilty. It was an audacious, brazen burglary that was some three years in the planning."

The seven convicted men will be sentenced together at a three-hour hearing at Woolwich crown court on 7 March.

Two others, Brenn Walters, 44, and Terri Robinson, 35, pleaded guilty in August to concealment of criminal property in relation to the case and will be sentenced in late March.

During the trial, the jury heard details of an audacious theft, which was planned over the course of three years – often at Friday night drinking sessions at the Castle pub in Islington.

Collins, Perkins, and Reader at the Castle pub on Pentonville Road after the heist.
Met police

Collins, Perkins, and Reader at the Castle pub on Pentonville Road after the heist.

Some of the details that emerged from court sounded like something out of a comedy caper rather than a multimillion burglary trial.

Metropolitan Police / PA Wire/Press Association Images

According to the police, only two of the gang – Jones and an unidentified man who has become known as "Basil" – could physically fit through this tiny hole in the vault wall.

This is why the gang were only able to rifle through 73 of the 999 boxes: There were only two people opening them.

Transport for London data revealed that Reader, the kingpin of the operation referred to by co-conspirators as "The Master", travelled from Waterloo to Hatton Garden on the 55 bus, making him one of the most high-profile criminals to arrive at a crime scene by double-decker.

The gang wore fluorescent yellow high-visibility vests, some with "GAS" written on the back, to give the impression they were there as workmen.

But at a briefing at Scotland Yard on Thursday, senior Met detectives explained the complexity of the case and cautioned against seeing the heist as a novelty due to the age of the perpetrators.

Paul Johnson, chief inspector of the Flying Squad, said: "We have got to stop focusing on their age and [instead] start looking at their criminal background and history. They came together to commit this and to me that makes them dangerous."

Detective Constable Jamie Day told the briefing that their age could even have been part of their disguise.

"Yes, you'd have to say they are elderly but so are the people who are going into the safety deposit. In this crime it [their age] was a perfect cover for them. Why would people passing by take a second look at them?" he said.

None of the gang were armed and there has been no suggestion throughout the trial that the men posed a physical threat to anyone. But that the gang had an extensive criminal record is undeniable.

The court heard that Reader, the ringleader, was given an eight-year jail sentence for his part in a major armed robbery in 1983. He was found guilty of conspiring to handle stolen gold bullion taken in the £26 million heist at Brink's Mat, near Heathrow.

Perkins was given a 22-year sentence in 1985 for his part in the Security Express robbery in Shoreditch, east London.

The jury also heard that Collins had numerous convictions to his name stretching back to 1961, including robbery, fraud, and handling stolen goods, while Jones has previous convictions, including burglary, starting in 1975.

The details of the crime itself showed evidence of a "professional" crime outfit, the court heard.

On Thursday 2 April, a mysterious red-haired man, "Basil", whose real identity remains unknown, let the gang into the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit building at 88-90 Hatton Garden, via a side street fire exit.

Despite Basil opening the door from the inside, police have said they have no reason to believe the heist was an inside job.

The gang then set off the alarm, which alerted a security guard and the business owner as well as the police. The Met would later apologise for not sending officers to the scene at this point.

Seeing no sign of a break-in, the security guard left without entering the building.

Meanwhile, the gang had broken through a series of security doors to reach the vault.

Handout CCTV images of raiders arriving at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit before carrying out their burglary
Metropolitan Police / PA WIRE

Handout CCTV images of raiders arriving at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit before carrying out their burglary

Having scouted the area, the court heard, the gang left Collins as a lookout in a white Ford Transit van stationed metres away at 25 Hatton Garden, while the others found their way in.

Metropolitan Police / PA WIRE

Not everything went to plan. According to a timeline released by the Met, the gang drilled three holes in the vault wall in the early hours of Friday 3 April, using a hydraulic pump to force their way in.

But it didn't work and after hours of trying, they left empty-handed at about 8am.

Later that day they came back with a new pump and hose and tried again – this time successfully.

Metropolitan Police / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The inside of the vault at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company after it had been ransacked

The gang managed to open 73 of the 999 deposit boxes, dumping their contents into bags and wheelie bins.

The court heard that in the early hours of Sunday 5 April, Jones and Perkins took stolen goods out of the building, before driver Collins arrived to take them and Basil away from the scene.

Later on, police would identify Collins' white Mercedes, which was spotted at the scene, using London congestion charge monitoring data, leading detectives to his address.

Police were then able to monitor several meetings between the co-conspirators over the following weeks, in which they discussed what to do with the loot and which elements of the raid could have gone better.

Eventually police were led to a meeting at a workshop leased by Doyle, where he ran his plumbing business, in Enfield, northeast London. It's here that the gang distributed goods among themselves, police said.

The court heard that some of the jewels were found under a gravestone at Edmonton Cemetery in north London.

Jewels recovered from Edmonton Cemetery and shown to the jury during the trial
Metropolitan Police / PA WIRE

Jewels recovered from Edmonton Cemetery and shown to the jury during the trial

Police called on the media to highlight the plight of the 40 victims who lost valuable goods – who included wealthy businessmen as well as people storing family heirlooms.

Police highlighted the story of one Hatton Garden trader, Kjeld Jacobson, 73, who closed up his jewel shop business, retired five weeks before the raid, and stored his savings in one of the deposit boxes the gang raided. Only a third of this has been returned to him.

Johnson spoke of the difficulty of reuniting the stolen goods with their owners: "It's not all neatly put in boxes, it's all just chucked in together – what we're faced with is separating through all this. And a lot of items are very similar. There are rings, sovereigns, half sovereigns.

"Once we were done there are 5,000 exhibits – and that's not 5,000 items. Each exhibit can have 100 things and some are just one thing. That's part of the difficulty in returning everything to the rightful owner."

And the story isn't over: On Thursday police renewed their appeal for anyone with information about "Basil" or the remaining stolen goods to come forward.

They are offering a £20,000 reward for any information that can lead to the arrest and successful conviction of "Basil", one of the crime's key conspirators.

He may be the key to understanding how this band of career criminals was able to slip into the premises unnoticed without causing any damage – and, if caught, he could unlock the secrets of any other crimes the gang may have carried out.

At the moment, the police say they have no leads on who this man could be.

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

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