LONDON (AP) — If at first you don't succeed, give up.
That's what a British prosecutor says appears to have happened with one of the leaders of the jewel heist gang accused of stealing about 14 million pounds ($21 million) worth of goods from safe-deposit boxes over Easter weekend this year.
Prosecutor Philip Evans said Tuesday that 76-year-old Brian Reader, known to his partners as "the master," didn't return after the gang failed in its first attempt to break into a basement vault in London's Hatton Garden diamond district.
Reader apparently got discouraged on April 2 after the gang managed to drill through the exterior wall but hit a metal cabinet on the other side. The others returned two days later with extra equipment that was apparently used to knock over the obstacle — they managed to get through to the loot, which included gold, platinum, precious stones and wads of cash.
Reader and three others have pleaded guilty. Four other men are on trial.
Carl Wood, 58; William Lincoln, 60; and Jon Harbinson, 42 are accused of being part of the burglary conspiracy and conspiring to conceal, convert or transfer criminal property. Hugh Doyle, 48, faces only the latter charge.
A red-headed man known as Basil remains at large.
The prosecution claims that the day after they failed to get inside the vault, two of the ringleaders went to the London suburb of Twickenham to scout out equipment that would allow them to penetrate the last hurdle.
They purchased a pump and a hose, the prosecution says, with one of the organizers giving a false name but his correct address when the purchase was made.
Similar equipment was found at the scene of the burglary, which prosecutors say was the largest in English history.