The Hatton Garden raiders brought with them “a great deal of experience in planning and executing sophisticated and serious acquisitive crime” to pull off the biggest burglary in English history, a court has heard.
The gang, who used a drill to break into a vault and stole £14m worth of jewellery, gold and cash – most of which is still missing – included participants of some of the most notorious heists of the last century.
Brian Reader, 77, dubbed the “Master” by his co-conspirators, had been involved in the 1983 £26m gold bullion Brinks Mat robbery at a Heathrow Airport warehouse, and Terry Perkins, 67, in the £6m Security Express raid in Shoreditch the same year.
They are two of seven gang members waiting to be sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court.
Reader, Perkins and two others – Danny Jones, 61, and John Collins, 75 – have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to burgle the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit vault over the Easter weekend last year.
Two other men – Carl Wood, 59, and William Lincoln, 60 – pleaded not guilty but were convicted of two charges.
Plumber Hugh Doyle, 48, was convicted of laundering the stolen loot after letting the gang use his workshop forecourt to transfer bags of jewellery between vehicles.
Proceeding without Reader, who suffered a stroke in Belmarsh Prison and is thought to be being treated at Queen Elizabeth Hospital for prostate cancer, prosecutor Philip Evans QC opened the sentencing on Monday, which is expected to last three days.
He said: “The identified perpetrators of this conspiracy, although senior in years, brought with them a great deal of experience in planning and executing sophisticated and serious acquisitive crime, to assist them in carrying out this, which had become known as the largest burglary in English legal history.”
But despite their experience it took the bungling “Bad Grandpas” two attempts to breach the vault, and they were caught after covert recording devices captured them boasting about the heist.
The accused sat in silence during the proceedings, while Lincoln, who suffers from bladder issues and has had a double hip replacement, left the dock on occasion to go the toilet.
Earlier, Reader’s barrister James Scobie QC, said the pensioner was too ill to even appear via video link from the high-security prison where he is being held and “may only have months to live”.
The trial continues.
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