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Hatton Garden: Who were the jewellery heist raiders? 

 December 27, 2021

The Hatton Garden Metals raiders were dubbed “Dad’s Army” on account of their advanced age and many had extensive criminal records going back decades.

 

Brian Reader (known by the gang as “The Master”)

Reader, a career criminal known as “The Master” and “The Governor” by his fellow gang members, had stood trial in the 1980s accused of murdering a police officer.

He was chosen to mastermind the Hatton Garden raid due to his involvement in the notorious Brinks Mat robbery of 1983.

During that raid, gold bullion and diamonds worth £26m (about £78m in today’s values) were taken from a warehouse near Heathrow Airport in what is still Britain’s biggest gold robbery.

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Reader – and fellow criminal Kenneth Noye – were suspected of laundering the proceeds and placed under surveillance.

When they found Det Con John Fordham spying on them in the grounds of Noye’s home in Kent, Noye stabbed the detective 11 times in the back.

Both men were placed on trial for murder but were acquitted after Noye claimed to have been acting in self defence.

Police had found 11 gold bullion bars at Noye’s home though and he and Reader were jailed for eight and 14 years respectively for conspiracy to handle stolen goods. Noye would later reach new levels of infamy for the road rage murder of Stephen Cameron and is currently serving a life sentence.

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Reader, who ran a used car dealership, pulled out of the Hatton Garden raid after the failed break-in attempt on the first night when the gang’s drill broke. Call data records and police observation showed that he continued to meet up with the other ring leaders following the raid.

The eldest of the group, he used somebody else’s Freedom Pass to get a bus to Hatton Garden on the night of the raid.

He was filmed on CCTV in the area wearing a distinctive red scarf later found at his Dartford home, where he was arrested on 19 May.

When they searched his house detectives also found a book on the diamond underworld, a diamond tester, a diamond gauge and diamond magazines.

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Daniel (Danny) Jones

An experienced criminal with convictions for burglary, attempted robbery and handling stolen goods dating back to 1975, Jones was convicted in 1982 of stealing items worth £92,000 from Ratner’s jewellers.

He was also described in court as “eccentric” and “mad”. His friend Carl Wood told Woolwich Crown Court: “Danny is a very sensitive guy, a very funny man. Eccentric to extremes, everyone who knew Danny would say he was mad. He would go to bed in his mother’s dressing gown with a fez on.”

The court heard Jones claimed to have fortune-telling powers, spoke to his dog Rocket as though it was human and was obsessed with the Army and keeping fit, often preferring a sleeping bag on the floor to a bed.

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One of the four ringleaders, he was arrested on 19 May along with two other conspirators after dropping off some of the loot at a house in Enfield.

He was caught on CCTV wearing an eccentric outfit during the raid, complete with striped trousers, a hi-vis waistcoat, red trainers and a navy baseball cap.

He, along with mystery man “Basil”, actually climbed through the hole that had been bored into the vault.

When his house was searched police found a book called Forensics for Dummies, facemasks and a drill as well as uncounted cash.

While in custody, awaiting trial, Jones claimed he wanted to “come clean” and give back his share of the robbery. To that end he wrote a letter to the media offering to show police where he had hidden it.

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But when he was escorted to Edmonton Cemetery, in north London, he only showed them a small portion of his stash and lied under direct questioning when asked if he knew about any more loot buried about 20m (65ft) away, which the police had already found.

 

John Kenneth Collins (known as Kenny)

Collins was the gang’s lookout man and in covert police recordings described how he sat outside on his own all night, while Danny and a mystery burglar called Basil were inside the vault.

He also drove the van to the safe deposit and performed a number of reconnaissance trips to Hatton Garden – but in a covertly recorded conversation, Danny Jones claims that Collins fell asleep on the job.

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Collins was described in court as “instrumental in gaining access to the vault”, visiting the area many times to assess its weaknesses. He also purchased the extra equipment needed to drill through the wall of the vault.

He was also a ringleader and recruited his nephew William Lincoln as a getaway driver and may have recruited another man, Hugh Doyle, to the criminal enterprise, the court heard.

Collins was arrested shortly after he received the stolen jewels. Police searches of Collins’s home in Islington, recovered a large amount of cash, wrist watches, coins, jewellery and a money counter.

 

Terence (Terry) Perkins

Perkins robbed the vaults of Security Express in 1983 – the biggest cash raid in British history. The robbers stole nearly £6m from a depot in Shoreditch, east London, over the Easter weekend. Perkins was convicted and sentenced to 22 years in prison for his part in the heist.

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He bragged of having worked with Reader on up to four different jobs over 12 years.

Hatton Garden investigators installed a listening device in his blue Citroen Saxo which recorded him saying he planned to use his share of the spoils to fund his pension. He was arrested with Collins and Jones having dropped off a holdall containing some of the loot.

Perkins celebrated his birthday during the raid and was involved in all stages of the operation, including disposing of the stolen goods.

He was inside the Hatton Garden building posing as a builder and “working” inside the lift on March 31.

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When his home was searched police found jewellery, cash, blue workman’s overalls and five pairs of white fabric gloves, that ensured the burglars left no forensic trace of themselves at the scene.

 

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