The Hatton Garden Safety Deposit raid over the Easter weekend was the “largest burglary in English legal history”, it was claimed yesterday.
The trial of those accused of being involved in the raid got underway at Woolwich Crown Court yesterday, with the value of the heist estimated at some £14m.
Brian Reader, 76, John Collins, 75, Terry Perkins, 67, and Daniel Jones, 58, have all admitted conspiracy to burgle.
However, the same charge has been denied by Carl Wood, 58, William Lincoln, 60 and Jon Harbinson 42. Hugh Doyle, 48, meanwhile, denies a charge of conspiracy to conceal, covert or transfer criminal property and an alternative charge of concealing, converting or transferring criminal property.
During day one of the trial, jurors were shown CCTV footage of men arriving at the heart of the London jewellery district in a white van, and unloading various tools, bags, metal joists and wheelie bins from the vehicle.
Once inside, the men used the lift shaft to access the basement, then disabled the alarm and drilled into the vault wall, the court was told.
Inside the vault, the raiders looted safety deposit boxes used by traders of jewellery, precious stones and precious metals.
Prosecutor Philip Evans told jurors that the £14m raid was unprecedented. “This offence was to be the largest burglary in English legal history,” he said.
The infamous Brinks-Mat raid at Heathrow in 1983 was valued at £26m, but because it involved violence the crime was regarded as a ‘robbery’ rather than a burglary.
The trial continues.