Hatton Garden heist pair 'were premier league criminals behind another raid'

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Two Hatton Garden raiders posed as workmen to break into a high-end London jewellers in a burglary bearing striking similarities to the daring multi-million pound heist five years later, a court has heard. 

Terry Perkins, 68, and Daniel Jones, 59, described as "premier league criminals", are alleged to have broken into Chatila jewellers in Old Bond Street on the August bank holiday weekend in 2010.

The men, wearing high-visibility jackets, are said to have gained access to the building before attempting to drill into the safe of a rear office containing over 50 million US dollars (£40 million) worth of jewellery, Southwark Crown Court heard. 

They were unable to break the safe but did gain access to a ground floor show room, where they are alleged to have stolen £1 million in jewellery and precious stones, prosecutor Philip Evans QC said 

Perkins, from Enfield, denies one count of burglary at the Mayfair jewellers between August 28 and August 31 2010.

Jones, also from Enfield and a "close associate" of Perkins, pleaded guilty to his role at an earlier hearing ahead of the trial, the jury was told. 

A third man, Charles Matthews, 54, of Virginia Water, Surrey, is also on trial accused of handling stolen goods. 

Mr Evans said: "There can be very few people who would have the necessary skills, experience and preparedness to carry out a crime with this level of high stakes, high reward and high risk.

"Very few people who would have the contacts to dispose of such huge amounts of high value property.

"Very few people who would even know how to begin the immensely difficult and complex task of burgling a highly secure jewellers such as this one.

"This was, say the prosecution, a premier league crime that required premier league criminals to execute it.

"The Crown say that the evidence relating to a later, highly similar and even more high value burglary demonstrates that Mr Perkins and Mr Jones were indeed two of those premier league criminals who carried out this high-value burglary at Chatila in 2010."

 

The men were two of those who carried out "one of the biggest burglaries in English history" when they stole at least £14 million worth of goods from deposit boxes in the basement vault of Hatton Garden between April 3 and April 5 2015, the court heard.

Both pleaded guilty to their part in the plot, which prosecutor Mr Evans said bore "striking" similarities to the burglary at Chatila.

This included the targeting of a highly-secure premises over multiple days on a bank holiday weekend and the use of high-visibility clothing as a distraction.

He told the jury: "The similarities between the burglary at Chatila back in 2010 and the burglary at Hatton Garden Safe Deposit are striking.

"They are striking in their similarities.

"Those similarities, say the prosecution, are not simply explained by coincidence, but because Perkins and Jones were involved in both."

It is alleged entry was gained to the communal lobby next to the Chatila store through the front door, using a key or key code.

The lift doors on the ground floor were forced open and two ladders used to gain access down the lift shaft to the basement, the court heard.

A hole was then made in the wall of the lift shaft to allow access to the rest of the basement, where a door was breached so the men could climb the stairs up to the ground floor level of Chatila, Mr Evans said.

An attempt to breach a safe in the rear office, where jewellery was kept over holiday periods, failed but cabinets in the main showroom and corridor were forced open.

A blue and black glove was found in the electrical alarm cupboard at Chatila by an electrician on September 3, days after the burglary, which proved a "partial" match for Jones, the court heard.

The sample was analysed again using more sensitive techniques in 2015, Mr Evans said.

"It is estimated that the probability of the profile coming from someone other than Jones was one in a billion," he added.

A "milky fluid" was also found sprayed on the store's display cabinets, similar to one left at the premises at Hatton Garden five years later.

Matthews, who runs a scrap metal dealership in east London and is described as a "long-term associate" of Perkins, is alleged to have been in possession of items stolen from the Chatila burglary, the court heard.

The prosecution said he is not accused of being involved in the burglary or disposing of the goods from the premises.

Police, who searched his office in August 2015, found a black plastic bag hidden behind a removable ceiling tile containing 50 diamonds worth £48,750, two emeralds and a jewel encrusted bangle identified as being stolen from Chatila.

Fingerprints belonging to Matthews were found on a plastic seal bag containing one of the emeralds, Mr Evans said.

The court heard how police covertly recorded Perkins and Jones in a car in May 2015 following the Hatton Garden burglary, and heard them mention by description - not name - an earlier raid. 

According to a transcript read to court, Jones said: "One box would have probably been more than all them boxes in there."

He later adds: "It would have frit the f****** life out of ya, I'll tell you know that cos they are all riff raff down there."

Prosecutor Mr Evans said: "That, say the prosecution, is a rather unflattering description of the Hatton Garden area."

He said Jones' later comment - "Up there you're talking serious" - was a reference to the "type of people who frequent Mayfair".

"Wealthy people who may shop in a jewellers like Chatila," he said.