UK & World News

  • 5 March 2013, 18:53

'Fast Eddie' Jailed For Stealing Security Van

Notorious fugitive Eddie 'Fast Eddie' Maher has been jailed for five years for stealing a security van containing 1.2m two decades ago.

The former security guard admitted the theft from his employer Securicor after being extradited from the United States where he had been on the run for 19 years.

Judge Mr Justice Nichol told him: "You committed a gross breach of trust. You made a very substantial gain even if, as you say, the money has now gone."

Maher, 57, was delivering cash for Securicor in Felixstowe, Suffolk, in 1993 when he left a colleague at Lloyds Bank and drove off in the van.

Witnesses later saw up to four people transferring "sacks" from one vehicle to another, before Maher's own car was found burned out some miles away.

The same day he flew to the US using his brother's passport and a green card resident's permit.

Last year Maher, originally from South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, was shopped by his daughter-in-law, who discovered his past and hoped to collect a reward.

He had denied the charges and was due to stand trial but entered a last-minute guilty plea at Southwark Crown Court in London.

Maher, who used the false identities of Stephen King and his brother Michael Maher while on the run, intended to fight the allegation on the grounds that he had been forced to commit the crime after racking up "significant debts".

But Suffolk Police and the Crown Prosecution Service built up evidence proving that the former soldier and firefighter had profited to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds.

During his time on the run, Maher built a new life with his partner, Deborah Brett, and their son Lee, who was three-years-old at the time of the theft.

After his conviction, detectives revealed details of a series of property investments they say he funded from the proceeds of the crime in Suffolk.

This included a house in Colorado bought with $120,000 (79,300) in cash just six months after the theft.

Later Maher built a ranch on 80 acres in Colorado before moving around various US states.

At the time of his arrest on February 9 last year, he was working as a cable engineer in Missouri.

But his attempts to escape justice unravelled as he was arrested for illegally possessing firearms.

Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector David Giles, from Suffolk Police, said: "Maher said he was forced to carry out this crime and that he only got a small amount of money from it.

"He never named the people who he claimed forced him into it and never put forward a credible story.

"We have succeeded in proving that he profited substantially from the theft and was a key player in the planning and execution of it.

"Since his arrest, he has displayed no remorse for what he did - but I get the impression he has spent 20 years looking over his shoulder and hoping the law would not catch up with him."

None of the 1.2m stolen from the van, which filled 30 sacks, has ever been found.

Ms Brett, 47, Maher's sister Margaret Francis, 64, and a 54-year-old man, from Woodford Green, east London, are all on bail after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit theft.