A member of the Hatton Garden gang, known as ‘Basil’, has lost a Court of Appeal bid to have his conviction for the infamous £14 million heist overturned.
Michael Seed, 58, whose role in the burglary remained a mystery for years, was one of two men who climbed into the London vault to loot 73 safe deposit boxes after the gang drilled through the concrete wall over the 2015 Easter bank holiday weekend.
The alarm specialist, who is believed to have let himself into the building using a set of keys before defeating the security system, was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle and conceal criminal property over the break-in and jailed for ten years at Woolwich Crown Court in 2019.
Following the heist, police rounded up all but one of the ageing gang but did not know the identity of the mystery final man, who had disabled the alarms and squeezed into the vault.
Michael Seed, known as ‘Basil’, has lost a Court of Appeal bid to have his conviction for the infamous Hatton Garden burglary overturned
Seed evaded capture for three years before police raided his flat, in Islington, north London – around two miles away from Hatton Garden – on March 27 2018.
Jailing Seed for ten years, Judge Christopher Kinch told him: ‘Your role was a central one. You were at the heart of the core activities that had to be carried out.
‘You were not just there to fetch and carry. In my judgment this must rank among the worst offences of its type.’
However on Wednesday, Seed challenged his conviction at a Court of Appeal, with his lawyers arguing it was ‘unsafe’.
Among other grounds of appeal, his legal team argued the trial judge was wrong to admit ‘hearsay’ evidence obtained from recordings.
But his appeal was rejected by three senior judges, who said the admission of the evidence did not ‘render the conviction unsafe’.
Dame Victoria Sharp, sitting with two other judges, also rejected an appeal by Seed against his jail term, saying the total sentence was ‘proportionate and just’.
The hearing was conducted remotely, and much of it was inaudible to those listening over a telephone link.
During his trial, Seed told jurors he was not the man nicknamed ‘Basil’ by the rest of the gang.
The interior view of the vault at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company which was robbed by six men in 2015
Gold ingots found by the police at the home of co-conspirator Michael Seed in Islington
Driver John Collins (left), William Lincoln (centre), who looked after the loot after the raid and (right) Carl Wood, who got cold feet halfway through
Fellow Hatton Garden ringleaders also included (left to right) Daniel Jones, Terry Perkins and Brian Reader
Following the crime, Seed became the tenth person convicted in connection with the heist when he was found guilty of conspiracy to burgle the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company and conspiracy to handle the proceeds after £143,000 worth of gold ingots, gems and jewellery were found in his bedroom.
Of the £13.6 million of property stolen in the heist, only around £4.5 million – roughly one-third – has since been recovered by police, Woolwich Crown Court heard.
Seed was cleared of conspiracy to burgle the high-end Chatila jewellery store in Bond Street over the late August bank holiday weekend in 2010 with members of the same gang.
Seed’s fellow Hatton Garden ringleaders Brian Reader, 80, John ‘Kenny’ Collins, 78, Daniel Jones, 64, and Terry Perkins, who died in prison last year aged 69, were all jailed in 2016.
Detectives believe the gang could have been operating undetected for decades before they were caught, but cannot link them to any other crimes.
Seed first came onto the police radar when a surveillance team spotted him speaking to one of the gang, John ‘Kenny’ Collins, in the weeks after the raid.
The gang drilled through the thick concrete to gain access to the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit, in Hatton Garden, London
By the end of November 2015, police identified Collins’ confidant as Seed, starting a two-year surveillance operation which eventually confirmed he was Basil, the one that got away.
Unaware he was being watched, Seed continued to go about his business, travelling to Portugal in 2016 and Spain in 2017, as police built their case against him.
The prosecutor at his trial, Philip Evans QC, suggested Seed, who studied electronics and physics at Nottingham University, may have taken stolen cash to Portugal, where Perkins had a holiday flat on the Algarve.
Seed was identified by the Flying Squad at the end of November 2015 and further surveillance footage captured him walking around Canary Wharf in April 2016.
But detectives waited until March 2018 to strike, catching Seed red-handed with more than 1,000 items stolen in the Hatton Garden heist.
He is believed to have been melting down gold and breaking up jewellery on his bedroom workbench bit by bit as it was brought in from a bigger stash.
Seed claimed he could have been on a family holiday in Cornwall or visiting his elderly mother in Cambridge at the time of the Hatton Garden burglary and told jurors he had never been known as Basil.
The four-year road to catch ‘Basil’: How police allowed suspect to twice travel abroad before arrest
January 16, 2015: The Hatton Garden ringleaders assemble in The Castle pub, in Islington, to plan the raid.
April 2 to 5, 2015: The gang burglar the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit company.
April 24, 2015: Michael Seed – then unknown to police – is pictured meeting Hatton Garden ringleader John ‘Kenny’ Collins in Shoreditch Park, Islington.
May 2, 2015: Surveillance again captures Collins meeting with Seed – still unknown to police – in the park before they separate and meet up again in nearby Eagle Wharf Road.
Seed’s meetings with Collins sparked a two and a half year probe which led to him being arrested at his home in possession of the stolen jewellery
May 19, 2015: Police arrest nine suspects in connection with the burglary. Seed remains at large.
September 4, 2015: Heist ringleaders Brian Reader, Terry Perkins, Daniel Jones and Collins plead guilty to conspiring to commit burglary at Woolwich Crown Court.
November 29, 2015: Police work out the man who talked to Collins was Seed. Surveillance officers observe him near his flat in Islington, north London.
January 14, 2016: Carl Wood and William Lincoln are found guilty of conspiracy to burgle.
March 9, 2016: Perkins, Jones, Collins and Lincoln are jailed for seven years; Wood gets a six-year jail term. Reader is sentenced later to six years and three months imprisonment.
April 28, 2016: Police surveillance officers use CCTV cameras to watch Seed walking around Canary Wharf.
July 2016: Seed travels to Portugal, unchallenged by police, who continue to watch him.
June 2017: Seed flies to Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain, again unchallenged by police.
February 4, 2018: Perkins dies in his cell at Belmarsh prison.
March 27, 2018: Michael Seed is arrested after police raid his flat in Islington, north London.
February 4, 2019: Seed goes on trial at Woolwich Crown Court.
March 15, 2019: The jury finds Seed guilty of his role in Hatton Garden. He is cleared over Chatila
May 6, 2020: Seed loses a Court of Appeal bid to have his conviction for the infamous £14 million heist overturned
The infamous Hatton Garden criminals
‘Career criminal’ Brian Reader was known as ‘the Guv’nor’ and was a partner in crime of notorious gangland figure Kenneth Noye – despite the fact the pair were like ‘chalk and cheese’.
Reader was the oldest of the gang and he even travelled to the robbery on a bus using a pensioner’s ‘Freedom Pass’.
One police officer even described him as ‘the last of the gentlemen thieves.’
Reader was released from jail in 2018 and avoided paying back his £6.6million share after a judge found him too unwell
He avoided jail due to his ‘mental and physical’ health
Terry Perkins was one of those involved from start to finish and entered the safety deposit premises on both nights of the heist.
He did not go through the drilled holes into the vault and is thought to have stayed outside being handed the stolen goods.
He was later recorded by police saying he wished he’d taken a photo during the raid.
Police have described him as a career criminal and he was also involved in the well-known Security Express heist in east London in 1985.
Perkins died in prison on February 5, 2018 at the age of 69 while watching rugby on television.
He was due to stand trial for the Chatila heist while serving seven years for the Hatton Garden raid
Daniel Jones was described as an ‘eccentric Walter Mitty’ character during the trial when one of the accused men told of his strange habits.
He is one of the two men who actually got through the small hole the gang drilled into the vault and went through safety deposit boxes before handing out the loot.
He was caught on CCTV wearing an eccentric outfit during the raid, complete with striped trousers, a hi-viz waistcoat, red trainers and a navy baseball cap.
Police found a box of dust masks, the book ‘Forensics for Dummies’, a drill, balaclavas and a walkie-talkie at his house.
Jones has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 1975, with convictions for robbery, handling stolen goods and and burglary.
He was initially jailed for seven years in March 2016 after admitting conspiracy to commit burglary however a further six years and 287 days was later added to this after he failed to pay back £6,599,021.
John ‘Kenny’ Collins
John ‘Kenny’ Collins
John ‘Kenny’ Collins was part of the Islington side of the gang and has a long string of convictions for crimes including robbery, handling stolen goods and fraud dating back to 1961.
He was the driver for the gang waited in vehicles outside the safety deposit company on both nights of the Hatton Garden raid and acted as a lookout. It was his link to the white Mercedes which the first step in police tracking down the raiders.
He also drove the white Ford Transit van which was used in the heist.
The court heard he was described as ‘wombat-thick’ by his accomplices and prosecutors said he ‘lost the plot’ in the weeks after the raid.
During the raid, he was caught on CCTV wearing a smart green quilted cap and carrying a briefcase as he took up a look-out post in the building opposite.
He was released from prison in 2019 after serving half of his seven-year sentence
However after failing to pay back the millions of pounds he stole he was jailed for another 2,309 days
William ‘Billy’ Lincoln
William ‘Billy The Fish’ Lincoln
William ‘Billy’ Lincoln was recruited by ringleader John ‘Kenny’ Collins as a trusted family member to control a large part of the loot following the heist.
Lincoln’s aunt Milly Garrett lived with Collins as his common law wife in Islington.
He has a string of convictions for attempted burglary, burglary and attempted theft between 1975 and 1985, but his most recent conviction was for battery in 2013.
The married father-of-two was a well known character at the famous Billingsgate fish market where he would buy haddock, kippers, eels and salmon to sell on to friends and family members.
Lincoln was instrumental in organising the exchange of the bags of loot and was arrested after police boxed in his black Audi A3 before smashing the window and dragging him out of the car.
He was given a seven-year sentence
Carl Wood was a trusted associate of the ringleaders, recruited as an ‘extra pair of hands’ to pull off the heist.
Wood grew up in Hackney and has two adult daughters who have children of their own.
He was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in his early 20s, an inflammatory bowel disease which he claimed often left him bed-ridden and in agony.
In conversations recorded by police bugs, Terry Perkins suggests Wood was vouched for by his old friend Billy Hickson, who stood trial alongside Perkins over the £6million Security Express heist.
Wood was around £20,000 in debt, but in January 2015 attended the Adventure Travel Show, at the Kensington Olympia, featuring ‘once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences’ in apparent anticipation of his future wealth.
He did not attend the planning meetings, but was regularly updated by his friend of 30 years, Daniel Jones.
The pair would regularly meet for walks followed by sandwiches and coffee at their local gardening centre.
Dressed in dark clothing, hi-visibility waistcoat and navy baseball cap and wearing a white surgeon’s style mask dark gloves and glasses, Wood was one of the men who entered 88-90 Hatton Garden on the first night of the raid.
He was jailed for six years for the crime.
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