Five ageing jewel heist ringleaders jailed for seven years
Five members of an ageing gang have been sentenced to up to seven years each, while a sixth defendant was spared prison for a "sophisticated" £14m (€18m) safety deposit box break-in.
The ageing gang, with a combined age of 448, carried out the "sophisticated" and meticulously planned break-in over the Easter weekend last year.
Less than a year after the audacious raid, six of the seven men convicted in connection with the burglary were sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court yesterday afternoon.
Ringleaders John 'Kenny' Collins (75); Daniel Jones, (61); Terry Perkins (67); and the group's oldest member, Brian Reader (77), pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary last September.
Collins, Jones and Perkins were each given a seven-year prison term. Jones and Perkins said "Thank you" to the judge as they sat down.
Carl Wood (59) and 60-year-old William Lincoln were found guilty of the same offence and one count of conspiracy to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property, after trial.
Lincoln was also given a seven-year sentence, and Wood was jailed for six years.
Plumber Hugh Doyle was found guilty of concealing, converting or transferring criminal property between January 1 and May 19 last year. He was jailed for 21 months, suspended for two years.
Outside court, Doyle said: "I'm happy and relieved, I just need to catch my breath. I feel sorry for the victims. Now I'm going to focus on my business and my family."
Reader was also due to be sentenced. However, after falling ill in Belmarsh prison and suffering a second stroke, he was not well enough to attend court and will instead be sentenced later.
Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Kinch said: "The burglary of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit vault in April 2015 has been labelled by many - including some defendants and advocates in this case - as the biggest burglary in English legal history.
"Whether that assertion is capable of proof, I do not know. However, it is clear that the burglary at the heart of this case stands in a class of its own in the scale of the ambition, the detail of the planning, the level of preparation and the organisation of the team carrying it out, and in terms of the value of the property stolen."
Branding him a ringleader, the judge told John Kenneth Collins: "You are now 75 years old and like most of your co-defendants you are coping with a number of illnesses. You are also dealing with a deal of family sadness. You pleaded guilty. On count one, I take the starting point of 10 years and deduct 30pc for your early plea. I sentence you to seven years."
The judge told Daniel Jones: "You too have a long list of previous convictions. You have no convictions in this century. Your guilty plea was entered in the magistrates court and you offered to take the police to where some of the jewellery was buried. But the episode tends to suggest you were pragmatic in your approach as more of the stash was later found. I adopt the same starting point and the same deduction. You are sentenced to seven years."
Judge Kinch told Wood: "You were involved but you were not a ringleader. You were motivated by an instinct for self-preservation."
Said to have been "very close to one of the principle organisers", Judge Kinch told Lincoln: "Although not a ringleader, you were very close to one of the principle organisers. The sentence on count one will be seven years. Count two will be seven years concurrently."