Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Millennium Dome Raid

The Millennium Dome raid was an attempted robbery of the Millennium Dome's diamond exhibition in Greenwich, South East London on November 7, 2000. A local gang including Lee Wenham, Raymond Betson and William Cockram had planned to ram-raid the De Beers diamond exhibition which was being held in the dome at the time.

The gang had then planned to escape via the Thames in a speedboat.
Police caught raiders red-handed when they foiled a massive diamond robbery at the Millennium Dome, a court has heard. Their actions stopped the robbers getting away with £200m worth of "perhaps the rarest and finest" diamonds in the world, the Old Bailey was told.

Martin Heslop QC prosecuting, spoke at the start of the trial of six men accused of plotting to rob the De Beers Millennium Diamond Exhibition.
Mr Heslop said the robbers were caught as they smashed their way into the Dome with a JCB digger, equipped with a giant mechanised shovel.
The attempted robbery was foiled by the Flying Squad of the Metropolitan Police Service, who already had the gang members under surveillance for their suspected roles in a number of unsuccessful armoured vehicle robberies. The operation to foil the robbery was the biggest operation undertaken in the Flying Squad's history and at trial the judge in the case made a special point of commending the way it was carried out.
The digger had been modified to carry four people inside. "Because of the very nature of the vehicle, it was less likely that anyone would have any chance of stopping it as they made their getaway," said Mr Heslop. Those inside came equipped with gas masks, smoke grenades and bottles of ammonia to discharge, he told the jury.

They also held a sledgehammer, wire cutters, a sophisticated nail gun and body armour.
The robbery was planned professionally and carefully down to the last detail and almost succeeded. But senior police officers, suspicious of a plan to obtain the diamonds, mounted a sophisticated operation to thwart it. On the night before the raid they removed the DeBeers diamonds and replaced them with worthless fakes, just in case the robbers succeeded.

Undercover police officers and sophisticated CCTV were ready in wait for the robbers, the court heard.
Four men who attempted to pull off a daring £200m diamond heist at the Millennium Dome have been found guilty of conspiring to rob. Gang members were caught by armed police as they smashed their way into the south east London attraction with an earth mover in November 2000.

The guilty men are: •Aldo Ciarrocchi, 32, of Bermondsey, London
•William Cockram, 49, of Catford, London
•Raymond Betson, 40, of Chatham, Kent
•Robert Adams, 57, no fixed address

Betson and Cockram were jailed for 18 years each. Adams and Ciarrocchi got 15 years each. Meredith was jailed for five years. The four had admitted conspiring to steal the 12 diamonds, including the Millennium Star, one of the world's largest gems, from the De Beers Millennium Exhibition.
The court heard how Adams - known as Bob the Builder - had confessed to police after his arrest.

He told officer Brian McNamara: "I was 12 inches from pay day. It would have been a blinding Christmas." Adams described trying to break through the £50,000 three-quarter inch armoured plated glass vault with a sledgehammer. "I cannot believe how easily the glass went. I only hit it twice," he told the officer.