The final Hatton Garden suspect – accused of being the vault breaker ‘Basil’ – had dozens of electronic gadgets at his London home when it was raided by police, a court heard today.
Police believe Michael Seed, 58, is the last member of the ageing mob which looted an estimated £13.7 million of gold, cash and gems from 73 boxes, in London’s diamond district over Easter weekend, 2015.
Officers have been hunting for Basil – the man who allegedly cracked through the alarm system at the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit, in London’s diamond district for almost four years.
Police took added time to reach the location where the gang had drilled a huge hole through the vault, because the system showed officers were already on scene.
Police raided Seed’s one-bedroom council flat in Liverpool Road, Islington, on March 27 last year – three years after the burglary.
Officers found a home-made work bench in his bedroom with electrical devices, precision drills, a smelting machine and more than 1,000 items of jewellery, gold, watches and bundles of precious or semi-precious stones, valued by auctioneers at around £143,000.
Michael Seed appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court in London. He denies being ‘Basil’
The court heard some 933 (92%) of the items were, or potentially were, items stolen in the Hatton Garden burglary, with gold ingots matching those linked to alleged accomplice Jones.
The prosecutor said: ‘The fact that Michael Seed has a share of similar items, demonstrates that he participated in the burglary of Hatton Garden Safe Deposit as a joint principal and ringleader.’
Books about electronics and surveillance, specialist devices that can covertly monitor sounds and movements, ‘training devices’ and a gadget that could have blocked an alarm signal were also recovered from Seed’s home.
Mr Evans said high-visibility ‘Royal Mail’ and ‘BT’ clothing found in his bedroom could have been used to gain access to premises for ‘reconnaissance purposes’.
A number of electronic items were found including this alarm system face with accompanying instructions over how to turn it off
Intricate electrics found on boards which are found on the inside of high tech items like computers were discovered
The police say the treasure trove of gadgets would suggest Mr Seed was able to do the jobs carried out by ‘Basil’ during the raid
The court has heard five of the six men who were physically present at Hatton Garden – Brian Reader, 79, Collins, 78, Jones, 61, Carl Wood, 61, and Terry Perkins, who died aged 69 last year have been convicted of conspiring to carry out the burglary.
They allege the sixth man is Mr Seed.
Four other people – William Lincoln, 63, Hugh Doyle, 51, Terri Robinson, 38, and Bren Walters, 47 – were also convicted in connection with the crime.
The final Hatton Garden heist suspect nicknamed ‘Basil’ was linked to the raid by the way he walks, a court has heard.
Basil disabled the safe deposit company’s alarm system, allowing his accomplices to drill through the vault wall over the 2015 Easter bank holiday weekend.
He and Danny Jones, 63, then slipped through the 25cm by 45cm hole – an exact replica of which was shown to jurors on Tuesday – to CCTV cameras captured Basil wearing a blue boiler suit, white gloves, carrying a black binbag and disguised with a wig, face mask and earphones, as he walked in through the main door of 88-90 Hatton Garden.
A tracking generator was found amongst the stash of electronic items in the London flat
Woolwich Crown Court also heard Seed was watched by police as he twice met John ‘Kenny’ Collins, 78, in Shoreditch Park, Islington, north London as Scotland Yard’s Flying Squad identified suspects in the wake of the raid.
Comparing the CCTV images with covert footage of Seed to CCTV, Detective Sergeant Jamie Day observed ‘elements of consistency’ between them, including ‘their build and height’, as well as their ‘gait or instability when they are both walking,’ jurors were told.
An expert podiatrist or chiropodist also compared the footage and said there is ‘strong evidence’ to support the theory that Seed is Basil, said prosecutor Philip Evans QC.
A number of items had been taken apart to reveal the boards, chips and wires inside
A computer monitor was also picked up with the items in the London home of Michael Seed
Mr Evans told jurors: ‘He concluded that the ‘Basil’ footage showed someone with a particular habitual walk or gait – an abnormality in his right leg.’
Mr Evans said: ‘The Crown allege that Michael Seed, the defendant, is the final participant in the burglary at Hatton Garden and is the man referred to by the co-conspirators as ‘Basil’.
It is alleged that Mr Seed took a leading role in the burglary alongside Collins, Jones, Perkins and Reader, and that he was primarily responsible for the disabling of the alarm system.
Mr Evans said there were ‘striking and compelling’ similarities between the Hatton Garden and Chatila burglaries carried out by the same ‘team’.
The Chatila jewellery store in Bond Street was attacked on late August Bank Holiday weekend in 2010, the court has heard.
Seed is alleged to have taken part in the raid during which around £1 million worth of jewellery, along with £45,000 in cash was stolen.
The court heard Seed spent a fortnight in Lisbon seven weeks after the Hatton Garden burglary, while holiday photographs suggested he had travelled abroad following the Chatila raid.
Jurors were told he has been unemployed since 2009, never declared or registered any business in the UK, not declared or paid tax on any earnings, and does not receive benefits.
Bank records showed injections of thousands of pounds into his account in the months following both burglaries.
Seed denies two charges of conspiracy to commit burglary and one charge of conspiracy to convert or transfer criminal property.
Seed, of Liverpool Road, Islington, denies two counts of conspiracy to burgle and one count of conspiracy to conceal or disguise criminal property.
The trial continues.
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