In Depth

How the real Hatton Garden robbery played out

New ITV drama depicts elderly criminals as they carry out ‘largest burglary in English legal history’


The Hatton Garden robbery is back in the spotlight this week thanks to a new television drama based on the heist.

The notorious 2015 theft at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in London’s jewellery quarter - and the police investigation that eventually caught the thieves - has been made into a drama which, after repeated legal delays, is showing on ITV this week.

The drama stars Timothy Spall, who plays career criminal Terry Perkins, one of the ringleaders of the gang that make away with jewellery, precious stones and cash worth £14m.

Perkins, who died in 2018, was captured along with six other gang members, Brian Reader, John Collins, Carl Wood, Daniel Jones, Hugh Doyle and William Lincoln in 2016. Collins, Jones and Perkins were sentenced to seven years in prison, while Reader was given six years and three months. Wood and Lincoln “were also found guilty of conspiring to burgle and were given custodial sentences of six and seven years respectively while Doyle was handed a suspended sentence for his involvement in the heist”, reports the iNews website.

However, the mastermind who disabled the security system to let the gang into the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company building evaded capture for three years. Michael Seed, nicknamed “Basil” and described as “the brains” of the operation, was eventually arrested at his home in Islington in 2018, and in March this year was convicted of conspiracy to commit burglary and conspiracy to convert or transfer criminal property, receiving a ten-year prison sentence.

What happened in the Hatton Garden Robbery?

After staff locked up the building for the Easter bank holiday weekend, CCTV footage showed the thieves arrive in a van posing as gas repairmen and managing to get into the building via a fire escape.

They then abseiled down a lift shaft and drilled a large hole through a thick concrete wall to gain access to the deposit boxes. In total the raid took two days, in part because their ten-ton hydraulic ram was faulty, forcing them to leave and come back later.

After spending several hours drilling through the wall, Seed was one of two men who climbed through the vault and broke into 70 safe deposit boxes.

Having taken off with what they could find, the vault was covered in debris and the floor was “strewn with discarded safe deposit boxes and numerous power tools, including an angle grinder, concrete drills and crowbars,” The Daily Telegraph reported.

The heist was dubbed the “largest burglary in English legal history” by Phillip Evans QC, based on the value of what was stolen. The scale of the operation matched the size of the haul: it had been three years in the making, planned during regular meetings at The Castle pub on Pentonville Road in Islington, north London.

“Long before what happened during two different nights in early April, these defendants met frequently, very often on a Friday, to discuss how the burglary was to be successfully carried out”, Evans told the court at the time of the men’s convictions.

Hatton Garden began on ITV on Monday 20 May at 9pm. The remaining episodes will air over the course of the next three nights.

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