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What happened to the Hatton Garden burglars? 

Courtroom sketch of the Hatton Garden burglars
Image: Courtroom sketch of the Hatton Garden burglars | PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

In April 2015, one of the most lucrative heists in British history took place in the Hatton Garden jewellery quarter of London. Over the course of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend, a gang of professional criminals disguised as tradesmen accessed a safety deposit facility, climbed down a lift shaft to the basement, and burrowed into the vault using a heavy-duty diamond drill. They then used crowbars and angle grinders to bust open the deposit boxes, making off with at least £14 million worth of jewels and cash.

When news broke, there was a frenzy of speculation over who could have been behind such an audacious break-in. Some believed it was the infamous ‘Pink Panthers’ criminal network from the Balkans. Others wondered if a group of elite thieves who were strangers to each other had been gathered together by a criminal mastermind.

But then came the gob-smacking truth. The perps were actually a bunch of pensioners, who obtained several nicknames such as the ‘Bad Dad’s Army’, ‘Diamond Wheezers’, and ‘Grandads Gang’.

It was surveillance that did them in. The police pinpointed one of their vehicles using CCTV, then planted listening devices to observe the burglars and gather evidence before eventually arresting them. As one copper put it: 'They were analogue criminals operating in a digital age.'

But who were the men who broke into the central London treasure trove, and what became of them?

Brian Reader

The oldest member of the group aged 77 at the time of his sentencing, Brian Reader has become the face of the Hatton Garden heist, played by Sir Michael Caine and Larry Lamb in films based on the crime.

While Reader was known as a mild-mannered, unassuming sort of man, he was deeply entrenched in the criminal underworld and had previously done time for handling stolen goods relating to the notorious Brink’s-Mat gold bullion robbery in 1983.

Handed just over six years in prison for his role as the Hatton Garden mastermind, Reader was released after serving half his sentence. For a while it looked like he might be given a further sentence for failing to pay a multi-million pound confiscation order imposed on the heist ringleaders to recover their ill-gotten gains. However, severe poor health has meant he’s remained free on compassionate grounds.

Terry Perkins

Terry Perkins celebrated his 67th birthday on the weekend of the Hatton Garden job, exactly 32 years after he’d taken part in another gigantic Easter raid: the £6 million armed robbery of a London security depot. Perkins was handed a 22-year jail sentence for that one, but absconded from open prison in 1995 and managed to evade re-capture until 2012.

Despite suffering heart problems and diabetes, Perkins was an enthusiastic member of the Hatton Garden gang, with police recording him boasting that: ‘If we get nicked, at least we can hold our heads up that we had a last go... the last fling.’

Handed a seven-year sentence, Perkins died in HMP Belmarsh in February 2018.

Danny Jones

Aged 61 at the time of sentencing, Danny Jones was known as one of the more eccentric villains in the London underworld. According to one court testimony, Jones ‘would go to bed in his mother’s dressing gown with a fez on’ and had a penchant for having human conversations with his dog. Jones also had an extensive criminal record, including a 1982 conviction for a jewellery robbery valued at almost £100,000.

Handed an initial seven years for his part in the heist, Jones was later given almost another seven years for failing to pay the confiscation order to cover some of the raid’s value. He’s now a free man, having completed his jail time in early 2022.

John ‘Kenny’ Collins

Kenny Collins was 75 when he was given his seven-year sentence for the heist. A career criminal with fraud and robbery convictions going back to the 60s, Collins took reconnaissance trips to the jewellery district in the lead up to the operation and acted as lookout man as the others broke in. It was later said he’d fallen asleep on the job, a claim which Collins dismissed as ‘cobblers’ in a newspaper interview.

Collins was released after serving half his initial sentence, but in 2019 was slapped with another six-year sentence for failing to pay his confiscation order. As the judge explained: ‘I recognise that Mr Collins is in his 70s. It was entirely his decision to commit that crime at a time in his life when most people hope to enjoy a quiet retirement.’

Michael ‘Basil’ Seed

Known for a time as ‘The Ghost’ because he evaded police the longest, ‘Basil’ Seed was finally banged up in 2019, three years after his partners in crime had been put away. Seed was very much the odd man out of the group, being relatively young (58 when jailed) and from a genteel middle-class background (his father was a leading Cambridge University scientist).

An electronics expert who is thought to have disabled the Hatton Garden facility’s security system, Seed was given 10 years for his part in the burglary. In 2022, he was handed an additional six-and-a-half years for not paying back the confiscation order.

Carl Wood

Two of the Hatton Garden burglars actually pulled out of the raid halfway through, for fear of being caught. One was the ringleader Brian Reader, and the other was a more junior member of the team, Carl Wood.

He was a veteran villain who’d done time in the early 2000s for conspiring with corrupt coppers to kidnap and assault a money launderer. However, by the time of Hatton Garden, Wood was on disability benefits and mired in debt. That didn’t move the judge to cut him any slack, though. At age 59, he was jailed for six years.