Alarm specialist Michael Seed, 58, is believed to have let himself in to the building in London’s diamond district using a set of keys before defeating the security system.
He was one of two men who climbed into the vault to loot 73 safe deposit boxes after the gang of ageing criminals drilled through the thick concrete wall over the 2015 Easter bank holiday weekend.
Seed, who pays no taxes, claims no benefits and rarely uses a bank account, evaded capture for three years before police raided his flat in Islington, north London – around two miles away from Hatton Garden – on 27 March last year. After being convicted and sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court yesterday, Judge Christopher Kinch QC 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.”
Seed, wearing a light blue jumper, glasses and with thinning grey hair, appeared expressionless as he was jailed. The electronics expert confidently told a jury at Woolwich Crown Court he was not the man nicknamed “Basil” by the rest of the gang.
But he became the tenth person convicted in connection with the crime when 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 was found in his bedroom. 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.
Prosecutors had alleged he posed as a BT engineer to tamper with the security system before the burglary, then used a 2G mobile phone jammer to block the alarm signal.
The thieves failed to drill into a safe containing £40m worth of gems, but made off with £1m worth of jewellery from the shop’s display cabinets.
The jury of six men and six women deliberated for 35 hours and 35 minutes before returning their verdicts. Seed, who grew up in Cambridge, was jailed for ten years for the Hatton Garden charge and eight years for the conspiracy to convert or transfer criminal property charge, to be served concurrently.
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.
Collins and Reader are already out of prison, but face going back to jail if they fail to pay back more than £6.5m of the proceeds police believe could still be under their control.
Detectives believe the gang could have been operating undetected for decades before they were caught, but cannot link them to any other crimes.
Seed travelled abroad three times after he was first photographed meeting Collins by a surveillance team in the weeks after the Hatton Garden burglary.