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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 18:49 GMT
Policeman 'suggested Dome raid plan'
Millennium Dome
The alleged plot targeted a De Beers exhibition
A policeman first suggested mounting a diamond heist at the Millennium Dome, a member of a gang accused of plotting to carry out a 200m gem robbery at the attraction has told a jury.

Raymond Betson said his brother-in-law, Pc Michael Waring, who was working at the Dome as part of the perimeter security, told him about a school friend called Tony also working at the site in Greenwich, London.

I had every confidence in him - there was no way I thought he would betray me - not for two seconds

Raymond Betson
Mr Betson alleged the officer said Tony "had got this plan together. He had a backer - someone to buy the jewellery. He said the security was crap".

"I had every confidence in him - there was no way I thought he would betray me - not for two seconds," Mr Betson told the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

"If this had come to me from someone else - in a pub - I would not have gone along with it but it was the background to where it had come from. It was solid."

Mr Betson is accused with four others of plotting to snatch the diamonds from the De Beers Millennium Diamond Exhibition in November 2000.

'Perfect situation'

He said he had been "very interested" in his brother-in-law's revelations about Tony.

"It was a lot to take in. I had already built up a relationship with Michael. He had a history with Tony.

"It seemed like the perfect situation."

He said he had inside help through Pc Michael Waring

William Cockran
Mr Betson said he had developed a trusting relationship with Mr Waring.

"It was a relationship of mutual trust," he told the court.

"I did not think he would try and do me any harm. I trusted him."

Mr Betson, along with William Cockran, 49, from Catford, south east London, Aldo Ciarrocchi, 31, of Balaclava Road, Bermondsey, south-east London, and Robert Adams, 57, of no fixed address, all deny conspiracy to rob but admit conspiring to steal.

Kevin Meredith, 34, of Auckland Drive, Brighton, East Sussex, denies both charges.

Inside help

It is alleged the gang intended to use an earthmover to smash their way into the Dome before escaping across the River Thames by speedboat.

This week the jury has also heard Mr Cockran say he had believed the raid would be "a piece of cake" and that Mr Betson had told him that his brother-in-law was in on the plan.

"He said he had inside help through Pc Michael Waring," Mr Cockran told the court.

The police officer was called as a prosecution witness last week and "totally denied" he was part of the plan or had offered to act in a criminal way by providing information on security.

The trial continues.

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