May 22 2013 Latest news:
by colin adwent, crime correspondent
Wednesday, March 6, 2013
FAST Eddie Maher managed to get a trusted job handling millions of pounds for Securicor – even though he had convictions for a robbery and nine other offences.
As the 57-year-old former security guard began his five-year prison term for driving off with a armoured van containing nearly £1.2million from outside Lloyds Bank in Felixstowe in 1993, it emerged Maher had a string of convictions before joining Securicor.
At his Southwark Crown Court sentencing yesterday it was revealed he had appeared in court on four occasions starting in 1969 and that he had lied on his application form to Securicor in 1992.
At the time of his first conviction he would have only been aged 13 or 14. He also had two other juvenile convictions.
However, prosecutor Richard Southern said Maher’s only relevant conviction occurred at the Old Bailey on December 6, 1977, when he was given a 12-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, for mugging a milkman during a cash snatch.
Last September Maher had pleaded not guilty at Ipswich Crown Court to stealing £1,171,500 on January 22, 1993, but yesterday he changed his plea to guilty. It also emerged Maher may have only kept up to £200,000 of the loot.
During the hearing Mr Southern revealed they were still looking to trace three possible accomplices.
They include Maher’s brother, Michael Maher, and two acquaintances Michael Sulsh and Terrence Bender.
Maher spent almost 20 years on the run in the US following the theft in Felixstowe.
Mr Southern QC said: “We believe the defendant received assistance from people in this country in the months after the offence.”
Maher’s life unravelled when son Lee King’s disgruntled ex-wife Jessica King contacted US authorities to tell them he was a wanted man, the court heard.
He was arrested for immigration and firearms offences before being deported to the UK.
Maher, originally from South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, had been due to stand trial for theft after being deported from the UK but today changed his plea to guilty.
His partner, Deborah Brett, and younger son, Mark, sat in court as he was jailed. Mark mouthed the words “I love you” as his father was led from the dock.
Jailing Maher, Mr Justice Nicol said: “You made a very substantial gain even if, as you say, the money has now gone.
“The temptation to commit the offence must have been too great.
“You told the authorities after your arrest that you only received £40,000. Your wife has said it was about £200,000.”
Maher was jailed for just five years. He will automatically be released halfway through his sentence and, allowing for the 235 days he has already served on remand in the UK, he will be eligible for release after little more than two years.
Maher – who used the names of Stephen King and Michael Maher while on the run – had intended to fight the allegation on the grounds that he had been forced to commit the crime after racking up “significant debts”.
Detective Inspector David Giles, from Suffolk Police, said: “Over the years Edward Maher has almost been portrayed as a Robin Hood character, someone who stole from a bank, where no one was injured.”
In 1977, Maher received a 12-month suspended prison sentence for robbing a milkman of £35.
Maher’s partner Deborah Brett, 47, his sister, Margaret Francis, 64, and Paul Muggleton, 54, from Woodford Green, east London, are all on bail after being arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and conspiracy to commit theft.
G4S Risk Director, Gavin Windsor, said: “We would like to thank the police and Crown Prosecution Service for its efforts in bringing Eddie Maher to justice and continuing to pursue this case.
“Eddie Maher was employed by Securicor for five months before disappearing in 1993 with £1.2m.
“Although the Securicor brand has disappeared, the case was not forgotten.
“This conviction shows that regardless how long criminals try to avoid being held to account for their actions, the authorities will catch up with them.
“Our staff are entrusted to safeguard our customers’ assets and we will always work with the police to ensure we prosecute those few individuals who break that trust.”