Hatton Garden Trial – verdicts in

Hatton Garden Trial – verdicts in

Photo from the BBC


It was billed by some as the ‘trial of the century’. Which may be pushing it (it’s a bit early to say. And anyway, I’d put the phone hacking above it, but hey), but it was certainly a good heist story.

On 14th January 2016, after a month long trial, the jury brought back their verdicts on the four defendants who contested their guilty and opted for a trial.



The factual background is well known (there is even a wikipedia entry).

But, if you’ve missed it, then in brief – over the Easter weekend in 2015 a group of people (with the assistance of some inside knowledge from someone who has not been identified) burgled the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company.

They did this over a period of time by drilling through the 50cm thick concrete walls having gained entry through a lift shaft. The first time they tried, they found their access was blocked, forcing them to return two nights later to finish the job.

Whilst in there some £14 million in jewels and precious metals were stolen from 72 safe deposit boxes. Only a third of this has been recovered.

All in all, it was an extremely professional job.



The following people previously pleaded guilty Conspiracy to Burgle :

  • Terry Perkins (67)
  • John Collins (75)
  • Daniel Jones (58)
  • Brian Reader (72)

The trial featured four men, and the verdicts were as follows :

  • Carl Wood (58)

– Conspiracy to Burgle – Guilty
– Conspiracy to Money Launder – Guilty

  • William Lincoln (60)

– Conspiracy to Burgle – Guilty
– Conspiracy to Money Launder – Guilty

  • Jon Harbinson (42)

-Conspiracy to Burgle – Not Guilty

– Conspiracy to Money Launder – Not Guilty

  • Hugh Doyle (48)

– Conspiracy to Money Launder – Guilty
– Money Laundering (alternative charge) – No Verdict Taken



Sentencing will be on 7th March 2016.

The maximum sentence for commercial burglary (rather than burglary of a house) and for money laundering is ten years. We would think that those who were convicted of both counts will get concurrent sentences – i.e., their sentences will be no more than ten years

Normally, burglars and money launderers get considerably less than that, but this is very much a ‘top end’ burglary. It is about as serious a case of burglary as you’re likely to see.

For that reason, it is likely that the sentences that are handed out will be close to the maximum – 9 years for those convicted after a trial, and 6 for those who pleaded guilty would not surprise us.


Is this a robbery?

This case has probably set a record for the most repeated legal inaccuracy in the news.

In brief, a burglary is a theft from a premises (commercial or residential). A robbery is theft with force or violence. An offence can, of course, be both.

But this one is definitely a burglary, not a robbery. If we had a pound for every time this had been called the Hatton Garden Robbery, we would be writing this from some tropical island.

A major difference is in the maximum sentence – for robbery it is life, for burglary 10 years. Those who are awaiting sentence today can be glad that there was nobody present who was threatened, or they would be facing a much longer time inside.


Dan is a barrister at 2 Dr. Johnson’s Buildings practising in crime.


  1. Thanks for that. You were my “go to” resource when Channel 4 pushed my nagging suspicion by referring to this as “the biggest heist in English legal history”. I wondered what the Scots or Welsh had been up to but was then reminded of the Securitas raid (£53mn). As I read your blog I realised: sneak theft, not theft with violence. How hard can it be for journalists to listen to themselves first?