Hatton Garden suspect ‘committed similar burglary five years earlier’

PA

The final Hatton Garden heist suspect known as “Basil” committed a “strikingly similar” burglary five years earlier, a court has heard.

Michael Seed, 58, is said to have avoided arrest when gang members were captured after what was at the time the largest burglary in English legal history.

An estimated £13.7 million of gold, cash and gems was taken from 73 boxes at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit in London’s diamond district after a drill was used to bore a hole into the vault wall during the 2015 Easter Bank Holiday weekend.

Around £1 million of jewellery and £45,000 in cash was stolen in a similar heist on the Chatila jewellery store in Bond Street on the August Bank Holiday weekend in 2010.

Prosecutor Philip Evans QC told a jury at Woolwich Crown Court on Monday the raids were “two high-value burglaries… conducted by the same teams”.

Five of the six men who were physically present at Hatton Garden – Brian Reader, 79, John Collins, 78, Daniel Jones, 61, Carl Wood, 61, and Terry Perkins, who died last year aged 69 – have been convicted of conspiring to carry out the burglary.

Four other people – William Lincoln, 63, Hugh Doyle, 51, Terri Robinson, 38, and Bren Walters, 47 – have also been convicted for their roles in the crime.

Prosecutor Philip Evans QC told the jury the final man to have entered Hatton Garden, known as Basil, was not arrested with the others, but is now on trial.

“The prosecution case is that ‘Basil’ was a nickname and the defendant, Michael Seed, is that man,” he said.

“The prosecution say Seed was involved in the burglary of Hatton Garden and the subsequent laundering of the proceeds.”

The court heard the Hatton Garden burglary was plotted for months, with many of the meetings taking place in the Castle pub, in Pentonville Road, Islington – 1.5 miles from Seed’s flat – and Scotti’s, a nearby cafe.

Jurors were told police do not know whether Seed had a mobile phone at the time of the planning, so his movements and role are more difficult to determine than the others involved.

The probe into the heist revealed some of the same men had committed a “strikingly similar” burglary on the late August Bank Holiday weekend in 2010 of the Chatila jewellery store in Bond Street, the court heard.

Jones pleaded guilty to the burglary, while Perkins died in prison before he could be tried. Charles Matthews, 55, was convicted earlier this year of receiving stolen goods from Chatila.

“The prosecution alleges that this defendant, Mr Seed, was also a participant in that earlier 2010 burglary at Chatila,” said Mr Evans.

Seed, of Liverpool Road, Islington, north London, denies two charges of conspiracy to commit burglary and one charge of conspiracy to convert or transfer criminal property.

He sat in the dock with thinning grey hair and wearing black-rimmed glasses and a blue sweater, as the case against him was opened.

The trial continues on Tuesday.