Thursday 29 September 2016

Criminal attempting €1.28m jewellery raid soiled himself when caught by armed police

Ryan Hooper

Published 22/02/2016 | 14:57

Mark Harding was said to have been
Mark Harding was said to have been "stunned" when the attempted heist in the upmarket Belgravia area of London was intercepted

A low-level career criminal soiled himself when an attempted €1.28m (£1m) jewellery raid was halted by armed police, a court heard.

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Mark Harding was said to have been "stunned" when the attempted heist in the upmarket Belgravia area of London was intercepted by Metropolitan Police, Southwark Crown Court was told.

Harding, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary along with three accomplices, looked embarrassed in court as the moment their plan was foiled was recounted by defence counsel Simon Pentol.

Speaking at the sentencing hearing Mr Pentol, who described 45-year-old Harding as "an unsuccessful, low-level perennial criminal with a drink and drugs problem", said: "On arrest, he looked utterly stunned and soiled himself.

"His reaction when arrested gives an indication of the type of man he is. He soiled himself when an officer put a gun in his face."

Harding, in the dock, put his head in his hands and rocked forward and backward as details of the incident were heard in court.

Harding and fellow defendants Rashid Alleyne, Gavin James and Peter Costello arrived at Eaton Place on September 22 last year attempting to steal at least £1 million jewellery. They all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary at a previous court appearance.

Mr Pentol said his client, who had 28 convictions for 64 offences, had racked up a debt to a drugs lord when a courier job went wrong some months earlier.

Describing his normal pattern of burgling non-dwelling properties, he said: "He is not the sort of man who would spend an afternoon sipping tea in Belgravia."

Harding, a crack cocaine addict, also pleaded guilty to two counts of handling stolen goods - a van connected to the failed raid, and £100,000 worth of luxury hair extensions.

Mr Pentol said: "He knows he has to change his life now."

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