Millionaire scrap dealer had 'no idea gems he hid for Hatton Garden raider were stolen'

Fiona Simpson
£1 million raid: Chatila was raided in 2010: Google maps

A millionaire scrap-metal dealer accused of hiding jewellery that had been stolen by one of the Hatton Garden raiders in his office roof told a court he never suspected the collection had been stolen.

Charles Matthews denied ever doing business in jewellery with Terry Perkins, a family friend who was jailed for seven years over the high-profile 2015 break-in, during their trial at Southwark Crown Court in London.

Matthews, nicknamed Chick, is accused of handling stolen goods over items worth £50,000 that were found at his offices during a police raid in August 2015.

Perkins is accused of stealing £1 million-worth of gems and jewels in a 2010 raid on high-end jewellers Chatila, something he denies.

Fellow Hatton Garden raider, Daniel Jones, 60, has admitted playing a part in the burglary.

Giving evidence in his defence, Matthews, 54, told the court that he did not know or suspect that the goods, given to him for safekeeping by James Tibbs, a friend who is not on trial, were contraband.

Matthews's lawyer, Michael Bromley-Martin QC, asked him: "When you received that jewellery from James Tibbs ... did you have any idea that they were stolen?

"No," he replied.

"Did you believe them to be stolen?"

"No," he repeated.

Matthews, of Virginia Water, Surrey, is not accused of being involved in the burglary between August 28 and August 31 2010 or disposing of valuables from the premises in Mayfair, central London.

Matthews explained that when Mr Tibbs asked him to look after the jewellery for a while two days before Christmas 2014 it was in a locked box which he did not look inside.

Mr Tibbs then returned in the second week of January the next year, taking some of the pieces away in the box and leaving others in a thin white translucent bag similar to a bin bag.

At the end of the second week Matthews told the jury he discovered the safe's bolts had broken and emptied it, placed the jewellery into a thicker black bag and stashed the haul in the ceiling tile.

Police searched the premises in August and when asked about the jewellery the following month, Matthews said they were not stolen goods.

He told the court he did so because he was under the impression that he was being questioned in relation to the Hatton Garden raid, which took place months after his friend had given him the jewellery to look after.

Perkins and Jones, from Enfield, are in jail for their part in "one of the biggest burglaries in English history".

They stole at least £14 million worth of goods from deposit boxes in the basement vault of Hatton Garden between April 3 and April 5 2015, the court heard.

Five years earlier they are alleged to have stolen £1 million in jewellery and precious stones from a showroom in Chatila, having been unsuccessful in breaking open the safe.

Perkins denies one count of burglary at the Mayfair jewellers between August 28 and August 31 2010.

Jones, a "close associate" of Perkins, pleaded guilty to his role at an earlier hearing ahead of the trial, the jury was told.

The trial continues.