Hatton Garden heist suspect guilty of being mastermind known as ‘Basil’
The final Hatton Garden suspect has today been convicted of masterminding the biggest burglary in British history.
Michael Seed, 58, was arrested in March last year, and during his trial jurors heard stolen jewellery and gold worth £143,000 was found at his home.
For three years police officers had searched frantically for the mystery figure dubbed ‘Basil’ and finally arrested him at his council flat, where they found gold bars and a tupperware box full containing jewellery missing since the London vault raid in Easter 2015.
A BT worker’s jacket was also found. It is claimed one of the gang may have posed as a BT engineer to disable the security system.
Seed, known as “Basil”, denied helping the ageing burglary gang, but admitted he knew ringleaders Brian Reader, 79, John “Kenny” Collins, 78, and Daniel Jones 63.
But today, he became the sixth man to be convicted over the raid.
Seed told Woolwich Crown Court he had met Collins twice in 2015 and was offered jewellery recycling work on the second occasion.
He said: “About a week later I received a call from a friend of his, who introduced himself as a friend of Kenny’s and said he had some work for me, some scrap.
“I said, ‘bring it round’. He came around, late 70s, early 80s, smartly dressed’.”
Seed claimed he realised the items were stolen when members of the gang were arrested, but he did not want to take it to police for fear of arrest.”
But after a five-week trial, the jury of six men and six women took 35 hours and 35 minutes to find Seed guilty of the Hatton Garden burglary.
The jury cleared him of ‘strikingly similar’ raid at Bond Street jewellers Chatila, with two members of the same gang, five years earlier.
Seed showed no emotion as the verdicts were announced.
He will be sentenced later today.
Well-spoken Seed, the son of Cambridge biophysicist John Seed, was a graduate of physics and electronics who had lived quietly by himself in Islington 30 years.
Describing himself as an electronics enthusiast, the Nottingham University graduate was jailed for three years for supplying LSD and cannabis to friend in 1984.
After serving 21 months he was released from prison and made a living as a wheeler dealer.
But by the early 2000s he was associating with John ‘Kenny’ Collins, 78, and 80-year-old Brian Reader – old school villains with a feared past.
The prosecution were able to prove Seed was the mysterious figure dubbed ‘Basil the Ghost’ during the trial of his ageing cohorts.
CCTV showed a man wearing a blue boiler suit, high-vis jacket and ear defenders, wearing a hat and red wig, approaching Hatton Garden with a black bin bag hiding his face from the cameras.
Police also photographed Seed walking with Collins in Shoreditch Park, after the raid and experts were able to say he was Basil because he had a funny Charlie Chaplin-style walk.
A gait expert told jurors the recordings of a man walking with a bin-bag covering his face and footage of Seed exercising near Canary Wharf were so similar it was likely to be the same person.
A few months after Seed was arrested for Hatton Garden police DNA experts re-tested a black garden glove found in the alarm cupboard of Chatila.
Inside the worn glove they found the DNA of Daniel Jones, 64, who was jailed for three years last July after he admitted involvement in the earlier raid.
Police also found extracts of Seed’s DNA in the glove.
Detectives searching for the Chatila loot were led to London City Metals, in Silvertown, east London after surveillance of Terry Perkins following the Hatton Garden heist.
Five men were sentenced to a total of 34 years behind bars for the Hatton Garden in March 2016.
Brian Reader was given six years while John Collins, Terry Perkins, 69, Daniel Jones, 64, and William Lincoln, 63, all got seven years for conspiracy to commit burglary.
They were later ordered to repay £27.5million between them or have their sentences increased.
A week later Perkins died in jail while awaiting trial for his role in the Chatila raid.
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