Biggest heist in UK criminal history
THE alleged theft of £7m in cash from an armour-plated van which had come from Heathrow Airport represents one of the biggest raids in British criminal history, a court has heard.
The van contained nearly half-a-tonne of banknotes picked up from the cargo depot at Heathrow Terminal 4 on behalf of Credit Suisse bank, Kingston Crown Court was told.
Loomis International driver Mohammad Siddique, 31, and guard Ranjeev Singh, 40, are accused of staging the ‘audacious inside job, dubbed The Heathrow Heist, on March 14 this year.
Singh allegedly left the van to go to the toilet and, after getting the all clear from Siddique, he smoked a cigarette and waited a further 15 minutes before raising the alarm, jurors heard.
In that time, Siddique drove the truck to a quiet semi-detached suburban street in Feltham and loaded the cash into another van.
Siddique was found hours later in a ditch with his hands tied behind his back and his feet tied together – and police have never traced the money.
Prosecutor Sandip Patel QC said: “It was an audacious theft, carefully planned and executed.
“You may think it has the makings of a Hollywood movie script, if it was it would probably be called ‘The Heathrow Heist’, if anyone wanted to write a script about it.
“This heist was one of the biggest in British criminal history, there have been bigger but £7m is a significant amount.
“It was also an inside job, the prosecution say it had to be an inside job by these two defendants.
“The prosecution say they acted out their parts according to the script they had agreed.”
Mr Patel told jurors that Siddique and Singh used “untraceable” throwaway mobile phones, false number plates and staged the incident to make it look like a robbery.
Twenty-eight bags of cash, weighing 408 kilograms, had been flown into Heathrow by Swiss bank Credit Suisse the day before bound for the Bank of Ireland, jurors heard.
“Firm friends” Siddique and Singh had requested to work together after Siddique falsely claimed his car had broken down, jurors heard.
Shortly after collecting the money from the depot Singh got out the van to go to the toilet and while he was relieving himself Siddique drove off “without by nor leave” at 8.30am, jurors head.
“So for 20 minutes or so while Mr Siddique is gone with £7m in the van Mr Singh does not raise the alarm”, said Mr Patel.
During that time, a throwaway phone, later found by police hidden in Singh’s jacket, received a 20 second call from Siddique, jurors heard.
Singh’s phone had missed calls from Siddique’s phone at the same time he was in West View, Feltham, said Mr Patel.
Mr Patel said Singh, who claimed to not have a phone on him, discarded the sim card from the phone at the police station but the finding of the phone led to the plan unfolding.
“It was enough time for Mr Siddique to leave the area with the money and transfer it to another van he had bought a few weeks earlier for that purpose”, said Mr Patel.
The van had been spotted parked in Feltham for days before the heist, jurors heard.
“That was their plot,” said Mr Patel.
“It was professional, planned carefully over a number of weeks not spontaneous.”
Singh eventually raised the alarm by approaching colleagues in another Loomis van who called the control room just after 9am, but it was too late and the money had gone.
At 11.15am, Siddique was spotted lying in a ditch near Gerrard’s Cross, by a couple driving by with his hands and feet tied with cable ties.
“The driver left his car and heard a person saying ‘help me, help me’, it was Mr Siddique,” said Mr Patel.
Siddique started to cry and asked not to be left alone and was too distressed to talk before Flying Squad officers arrived, jurors heard.
He immediately admitted to being part of the heist but claims to have been forced to do it.
“He says he was threatened for some weeks to commit the offences by unknown persons and they threatened to burn his house down,” said Mr Patel.
Singh claims to not be involved at all.
Mr Patel told jurors Rafaqat Hussain, 41, has already pleaded guilty and was “most probably the organiser” who made sure it ran smoothly and later “squirrelled” the money away.
He said Hussain’s wife Razvana Zeib, 34, and 34-year-old associate Garry Carrod who they had previously seen in the dock were no longer part of the trial.
Siddique, of Belgrave Road, Slough and Singh, of Grampian Way, Langley, Slough, both deny conspiracy to steal.
The trial continues.