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HATTON RAID COPS CLOSE IN ON BASIL; Yard quiz gang in jail to help in hunt for mystery man; EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: TOM PETTIFOR Chief Crime Correspondent and NICK SOMMERLAD

DETECTIVES are closing in on the elusive Hatton Garden raid fugitive known as "Basil" after quizzing his fellow gang members in jail.

They have also arrested a new suspect, held on suspicion of handling some of the [euro]12million loot still missing from Britain's biggest theft. The 33-year-old was bailed until later this month.

Safe-cracker Basil, thought to be in his 50s, has eluded justice while the six others in the gang, most aged in their 60s and 70s, have been jailed for up to seven years.

The April 2015 bank holiday raid on the safety deposit vault in London's jewellery quarter netted an estimated [euro]17million.

Flying Squad officers confirmed they have spoken to some of the gang as they continue their hunt for Basil. In all, five men have been questioned under caution about Basil and the missing loot.

The lanky burglar was dubbed "The Ghost" when he vanished after the raid.

A biography of mas-termind Brian Reader, 77, out today, reveals how a gang insider believes detectives have known Basil's identity for months.

The source suspects he has fled abroad, saying: "The police will watch his house... he'll probably come back in a couple of years and hand himself in. Police won't have much on him." In July the team spearheading the hunt for the master burglar again denied having any idea who he is. Scotland Yard refused to comment this week, saying officers will not provide a "running commentary" on their investigation.

Basil became Reader's partner in crime to help him deal with modern technology.

The book, One Last Job, tells how they met in the 1990s when Reader saw the "alarm man" and computer expert would be a valuable addition to his team.

Basil, originally from the South East, is around 6ft and slightly built. He is from a respectable middle-class family and his father died when Basil was young.

A gang insider said: "He's a kid who found things out using his own initiative. He's a problem solver. He would be shown how to open a door or pick a lock and then he would go away and improve on it... He was always very surveillance-conscious."

Basil is thought to have pulled off several burglaries and the gang's hierarchy was split between Basil and Reader, the only true specialist burglars on the team.

Scotland Yard said a man aged 53, held last year on suspicion of conspiracy to handle stolen goods, is on bail along with the 33-year-old who was arrested on May 19. A man in his 40s was freed with no further action.

A film about the raid, starring actor Larry Lamb, is now in production.

"He's a problem solver, a kid who found things out GANG INSIDER ON THE YOUNG BASIL


RAID READ Book cover

RAID READ Book cover

THE FUGITIVE CCTV image of Basil during the robbery

THE SCENE Gang tunnelled through wall into vault

THE FILM Movie about the raid stars Larry Lamb, second left, as Brian Reader

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 8, 2016
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