Hatton Garden raider breaks his silence to explain who he blames for arrests

One of the Hatton Garden raiders has broken his silence to blame heist mastermind Brian Reader for the gang being collared.

John “Kenny” Collins, 78, told how they failed to penetrate the vault the first night they tried after a detail in Reader’s plan turned out to be wrong.

And he accused the 80-year-old of abandoning the rest of the elderly crooks when he refused to return the next day.

He said: “Maybe if he didn’t, none of us would have got nicked.”

Collins is the first raider to give an ­interview since the 2015 Easter bank holiday robbery, in which £14million of gold, jewels and cash was swiped – much of it still unaccounted for.

He told an ITV documentary that airs today the gang were halted as they tried to drill into the vault when a steel shelf holding safety deposit boxes turned out to be bolted to the wall, not freestanding.

Collins said: “Brian said the thing would be freestanding. And when we get it, it’s bolted to the wall. That’s when they stopped, they couldn’t move, couldn’t shift it so they come out that day. That’s when Brian decided not to go back. You don’t just pull out because it suits you. What about us?

“They spent maybe three years on it. Common sense said we got to go back and give it another half-hour.

“We got to try and force these bolts. But he pulled out of it.”

Collins also tells how the others refused to give Reader any of the loot.

He said: “They wasn’t going to give him a penny, anyway.

“I said we’d give him something but they said, he’s getting f*** all. And he’d been their mate for 30 f***ing years.” The tensions between the gang were explored in a four-part ITV dramatisation of the raid, called Hatton Garden, which ended last night.

And Collins gives the first insider account in ITV documentary Hatton Garden: The Inside Story, presented by Ross Kemp – which also shows how the Daily Mirror obtained CCTV footage of the gang in the days after the raid.

Flying Squad officers explain how they identified them by following Collins’ black and white Mercedes in footage.

Collins – described by one gangmate as a “wombat-thick c***” in covert police recordings – is understood to have agreed to the interview after being annoyed by negative portrayals of him on TV and the big screen.

The documentary comes as a revised edition of a biography of Reader, One Last Job, is published by Mirror Books.

Collins says of being in and out of jail all his life: “Being a criminal is a living, innit? It’s what you do for a living, like you’re filming, it’s what you do.”

He also tells how the gang took the haul back to his home in Islington, two miles from Hatton Garden Safe Deposit in London’s jewellery quarter, but could not finish separating it because his wife was due back after a break.

Collins said: “She’s coming back on bank holiday, she’s only gone away for the bank holiday, I wanted the house empty before she – she didn’t know nothing about it.”

And he described the vault they raided as “a piss-holes place”, adding: “Think they’d have a better security.”

  • Hatton Garden: The Inside Story is on ITV on Friday at 9pm. You can order One Last Job by Nick Sommerlad from Mirror Collection on 0845 143 0001 or at mirrorcollection.co.uk

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