Elderly British diamond thieves get up to 7 years in prison

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LONDON (AP) – A British judge on Wednesday sentenced six men who stole cash, jewelry and gold worth 14 million pounds ($20 million) from a vault in London’s diamond district to up to seven years in prison.

The mostly elderly gang drilled through a concrete vault wall in the Hatton Garden diamond district in April and ransacked more than 70 safe-deposit boxes in a heist that has been described as the largest burglary in English legal history.

Five of the men were sentenced at the Woolwich Crown Court to prison terms of six or seven years, while the sixth received a suspended sentence for his lesser role in “concealing, converting or transferring criminal property” related to the heist.

Judge Christopher Kinch said the burglary “stands in a class of its own in the scale of the ambition, the detail of the planning, the level of preparation and the organization of the team carrying it out.”

The gang ranged in age from 49 to 77. Four of the men said to be ringleaders had earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

One 77-year-old member of the gang will be sentenced later because he was too ill to attend court. His lawyer said he had suffered a stroke in jail and might only have a few months to live.

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