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THE PS150M WADFATHER; BRITAIN'S BIGGEST BURGLARY: GUV'NOR BEHIND PS14M HEIST; Butcher's boy Reader became master burglar; He joined Hatton raid for buzz of 'one last job'.

Byline: exclusive BY TOM PETTIFOR Chief Crime Correspondent and NICK SOMMERLAD Investigations Editor

THE Hatton Garden mastermind is Britain's most successful thief - involved in a string of audacious heists worth more than PS150million.

Brian Reader, the oldest in the gang, at 76, grew up in the heavily bombed streets of South East London and started out as a butcher's boy following the Second World War.

But he turned to safe-blowing and enjoyed the high life - after pulling off some of the most notorious and lucrative raids in British criminal history during his four decades at the top.

The Hatton Garden burglary was to be the cherry on the cake of his crime-laden career. But the gang refused to share any of the loot with "the Guv'nor" because he abandoned them after the first unsuccessful night.

Reader now faces seeing the family home he left his children seized to pay for the crime he walked away from.

A close friend has told us how Reader headed a gang dubbed the "Millionaire Moles" who tunnelled 40 feet under a restaurant into a Baker Street branch of Lloyds bank in 1971 and escaped with a PS3million haul worth PS41million today.

He went on to break into a vault in Holborn Circus in 1982 while still on the run following earlier raids and made off with another PS1million in jewels, worth PS10million today, the source said.

Justice finally caught up with him in 1985 when he was jailed for nine years for handling gold from the PS26million Brink's-Mat robbery, worth PS87million today, as a lieutenant of notorious gangland figure Kenneth Noye.

That did not stop him and, despite suffering prostate cancer, he meticulously planned the PS14million Hatton Garden raid because he could not resist the buzz of "one last job".

As Reader faces up to 10 years in jail, another master burglar who has known him throughout, tells how he often managed to make crime pay - until his luck finally ran out.

The details are confirmed by a former detective who spent years investigating the safe blower.

Brian Henry Reader was born in the docklands of Deptford, in June 1939. He was the eldest child of Doris and Henry Reader, who had married nine months earlier and went on to have another son Colin and daughters Doreen and Sharon.

Reader's first lessons in crime came from his father Henry, a spiv who dealt in stolen goods.

His dad abandoned the family after the end of the Second Wold War when Reader was a teenager, leaving the boy as the family's breadwinner. He left school at 15 and found work in the meat trade.

In the early 60s, after leaving the army as a conscript, he became a regular at the Chop House restaurant in Clerkenwell where London's gangsters would congregate, including the Kray twins.

In 1964, Reader married Lynne and was still with her when she died of cancer six years ago. The friend said: "Brian went home every night and would never go to clubs. He was a quiet family man and he did everything for them."

Reader's son Paul, a car dealer who now has three children, was born in 1964 and his daughter, a year later.

By 1970 Reader was known to Scotland Yard and in underworld circles as an ambitious burglar on the up. That year he took Lynne to Paris one weekend because he did not want to be implicated in a job planned by a rival mob. A photograph of the glamorous coupled enjoying dinner at a top restaurant and passport stamps were all he needed to keep him from arrest.

In April 1982 Reader appeared at the Old Bailey along with safe breaker John "The Face" Goodwin, after the pair were named by supergrass Mickey Gervaise.

Reader went on the run with Lynne and the children, enjoying a life far removed from his war-ravaged boyhood.

The family spent most of the year in a Spanish Costa Blanca villa. Reader had a yachting licence and chartered boats around the world, taking his family.

They also took winter skiing holidays in the glitzy French resort of Meribel.

The source said: "He loved the finer things like holidays, good wine and food."

It was during this period that Reader allegedly slipped back into the UK in 1983 to take loot worth PS10million today in a raid on a Lloyds bank vault in Holborn Circus.

But he was forced to take the family back to the UK in 1984 after Lynne's mother became sick.

Back in London, Reader met infamous gangster Kenneth Noye who recruited him to help sell gold from the Brink's-Mat robbery.

The pair were later cleared of murdering an undercover detective.

A police source said: "Him and thieves, arrogant Noye were chalk and cheese. Reader is the last of the gentleman thieves. He was likeable, not arrogant or FRIEND OF LIFE OF THE aggressive like many villains. He didn't have the swagger of people like Noye." Noye had no connection with Hatton Garden, he added.

Meanwhile, Reader's family have been warned not to sell their property and solicitor Gary Rycroft said: "The burglars are likely to face a confiscation not or order for some or all of the missing goods. Often all conspirators are liable for the full amount to be recovered regardless of how much they benefited.

Reader ON SUPERTHIEF "Any assets that they transferred shortly before the crime could face seizure."

Reader only transferred his share of an PS800,000 house in Dartford, Kent, to a close relative in 2014.

tom.pettifor@mirror.co.uk

ALPS, 1982 Reader enjoys skiing while on the run DARTFORD The family home could now be seized BUST Reader did time for raid

THE GANG THE FIXER Terry Perkins, 67

A trusted lieutenant of Reader, who he met in jail in the 1980s.

Got 22 years for his part in a PS6million armed raid on Security Express HQ in East London in 1983.

He disappeared on day release in 1995 and helped run the the Harlequin pub, near the Sadler's Wells theatre.

After fifteen years on the run, Perkins was re-arrested before being released in 2012.

He did not go into the vault himself but later said he wished he had taken a "selfie" while his accomplices were inside.

THE LOOKOUT John Collins, 75

Fell asleep on the job - and then led police to the gang by driving his car home after the raid.

Described by another gang member as "wombat thick", Collins, from Tottenham, was once a promising amateur boxer.

But in his 20s he had robbery convictions and he was jailed for nine years for a PS300,000 armed jewellery raid in 1989.

One underworld source said of the Spurs fan and dog lover: "He is fearless and a very kind bloke" But another said: "He's a dumbhead and tells everyone his businesses."

THE DRILLER Daniel Jones, 60

Credited with the idea of using a diamond-tipped drill to go through the wall of the vault - and police found the book Forensics For Dummies at his house.

He has been dubbed a Walter Mitty character who lied to impress more experienced criminals. A source said: "I'd say 99 out of 100 stories he told me were untrue."

Jones' record started in 1975 with a rap for robbery and burglary. In 2010 he was arrested in connection with an attempted heist involving drilling into a vault in London's Bond Street but never charged.

THE MUSCLE Carl Wood, 58

Thug once plotted with two corrupt policemen to kidnap and torture a money launderer who owed PS600,000.

But the Met's elite CIB anti-corruption branch set a trap for them.

Breaking into a bugged hotel room booked in the name of their victim, he said: "I'll just go smash, hit him straight in the head. I've got my blade. He ain't going home."

Wood fled to Spain but was extradited and jailed for four years.

One friend said he was "great company" and "very well read".

THE KEEPER William Lincoln, 60 Known as "Billy the Fish" because he was a regular at Billingsgate fish market, he was recruited by Collins to control a large part of the loot after the heist.

Lincoln has a string of convictions for attempted burglary, burglary and attempted theft from 1975 to 1985. His most recent conviction was for battery in 2013. He told jurors of a bladder problem, which meant he wet himself after his arrest.

Lincoln claimed he had nothing to do with the raid and Collins said the holdalls he was handed were "some old s*** in a bag".

THE FRIEND Hugh Doyle, 48 The Irish-born dyslexic gas engineer was a trusted pal of Collins who offered his workshop as an exchange point for the handover of the loot.

Doyle was charged with conspiracy to burgle and remanded in Belmarsh prison's most secure unit.

But when the burglary charge was dropped just week before the trial was due to start, he was granted bail and fitted with an electronic tag.

On the witness stand he admitted that he was part of a drinking circle 15 years ago that included Perkins, Collins and Reader.

He was the last of the gentleman thieves, not arrogant or aggressive FRIEND OF READER on life of the superthief

CAPTION(S):

FACING TIME Brian Reader

PARIS, 1970 Reader and wife Lynne enjoy alibi trip

ALPS, 1982 Reader enjoys skiing while on the run

CLUES Mess left after raid at Baker Street

BUST Reader did time for raid

PROBLEM Reader walked away after first night of raid

LONDON, 2015 Reader, near Hatton Garden, a week after raid
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 15, 2016
Words:1605
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