Jewellery found stashed in house was old, says partner of Hatton Garden accused


The partner of a taxi driver accused of taking part in the Hatton Garden raid told a jury that jewellery found stashed in their house was more than 15 years old.

Police found designer watches, gold chains, rings and other valuables hidden behind kitchen cupboards at the home of Jon Harbinson, 42.

Cherie Wright, his partner of 22 years and mother of their three children, claims he can be seen wearing the items in family photographs that were taken more than a decade ago.

She insisted she is "100% sure" that a ring seized in the search belonged to her partner and added that he hid valuables around the house because he was "a little bit security conscious".

"I told them (the police) he has had them for years and they are insured," she told the court.

Harbinson is accused of storing three bags filled with stolen items from the raid in his garage.

He was allegedly asked to take them to his home by his uncle, William Lincoln, having been told they did not contain anything important.

Ms Wright told Woolwich Crown Court today she did not go into the garage or see the holdalls.

She said Harbinson seemed "normal" the weekend the raid took place, in April last year, and went to see his uncle because he was worried about his elderly grandmother.

Officers also found a copy of Killer by Charlie Seiga, a crime memoir detailing a raid with similar methods and equipment to the Hatton Garden theft.

Ms Wright claimed the book was given to Harbinson by a friend and was inside a box that had not been opened for years.

Prosecutor Philip Stott accused her of concocting a fake story after she told police at the time that she did not recognise the jewellery.

"The fact is you have changed your evidence," he said.

"You initially said you didn't recognise them, because you didn't recognise them.

"You said that because you had no idea where they had come from, and you have now made up this story having spoken to your husband about the best thing to say."

Harbinson, of Beresford Gardens, Benfleet, Essex, and Lincoln, 60, of Winkley Street, Bethnal Green, are both accused of conspiracy to commit burglary.

Carl Wood, of Elderbek Close, Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, is charged with conspiracy to commit burglary, and conspiracy to convert, conceal or transfer criminal property.

Hugh Doyle, 48, of Riverside Gardens, Enfield, north London, is charged with conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property between January 1 and May 19 2015. He also faces an alternative charge of concealing, converting or transferring criminal property between April 1 and May 19 2015.

All the defendants deny all the charges against them.

Ringleaders Brian Reader, John "Kenny" Collins, 75, Daniel Jones, 60, and Terry Perkins, 67, have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit between May 17 2014 and April 5 2015.

Collins, of Bletsoe Walk, Islington; Jones, of Park Avenue, Enfield; Perkins, of Heene Road, Enfield, and Reader, of Dartford Road, Dartford, are due to be sentenced at a later date.

Doyle is accused of arranging for the thieves to use the car park outside his office to transfer the stolen jewellery.

He claims he met his friend Collins, who he had known for 15 to 18 years, in May last year because he was going to lend him one of his vans.

He said Collins, who used to import fireworks and operated his own pawn business, also wanted to store fireworks in the loft above his office.

"He was the kind of guy that would buy expensive watches and buy it off you and sell it back to you when you had the money, almost like Cash Converters," he added.

"He was selling his father's old property and was going to clear it out and borrow one of my vans to do that.

"His health had deteriorated, he had diabetes and was going deafer every time I met him.

"I thought he had retired."

Doyle said he showed Collins the loft space on May 18 - the day before the loot was exchanged - but he "started to go cool" on the idea of storing fireworks there "when he saw it was an operational office".

He added that he told Collins to come back the following afternoon to have another look at the premises.

Doyle will continue his evidence tomorrow.