Fugitive thief, Eddie Maher, who stole almost £1.2m from security van in Felixstowe, released after serving half of his five-year prison sentence

Eddie Maher

Eddie Maher - Credit: Archant

Eddie Maher, the fugitive thief who was jailed for stealing almost £1.2m in Suffolk, has been freed after serving half his five-year prison sentence, according to reports.

The Securicor van involved in the �1.2 million pound cash haul

The Securicor van involved in the �1.2 million pound cash haul - Credit: Archive

Ex-Securicor guard Maher, 59, spent 20 years on the run after taking the cash outside a Felixstowe bank in 1993.

Known as “Fast Eddie” he was jailed for five years at Southwark Crown Court in 2013 after admitting the theft of a security van containing the £1.2million.

The 235 days he served on remand before being sentenced was taken into consideration – meaning he was able to be released in January this year. When he was eventually caught in 2012 he was found living in the US under a false identity after authorities were tipped off.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice said they would not comment on individual cases but did refer to sentencing guidelines.

Security guard Eddie Maher who stole �1.2m from a Securicor van at Felixstowe in 1993.

Security guard Eddie Maher who stole �1.2m from a Securicor van at Felixstowe in 1993. - Credit: Archant

“We do not comment on individual prisoners,” he said. “There are standard automatic sentencing rules, where if anybody breaches a condition of their licence they are likely to be sent back to prison.”

At about 9.30am on January 22, 1993, the armoured security van made its first delivery to Lloyds Bank in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe.

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Maher remained in the van while another guard made a delivery to the bank. When the other guard returned, he found the van missing.

The vehicle was later discovered abandoned in the town’s Micklegate Road with just £2,100 in coins remaining.

Police believe Maher unloaded about 30 sacks of notes into a Toyota Previa Space Cruiser which was later found at a viewing area at nearby Landguard Fort.

This car had been stolen from east London in November 1992. A second getaway vehicle, an Opel Oascona, was later found torched.

In the hours after the theft, detectives thought Maher and his family might have been kidnapped, but a search of their house in South Woodham Ferrers, Essex, showed no sign of a struggle.

Detectives discovered that Maher’s partner, Deborah Brett, and their son, Lee, had left the UK the previous day and booked into a hotel in Boston, Massachusetts.

Every port and airport was monitored but Maher managed to leave the country as hundreds of police and border officials searched for him.

Interpol was alerted, a reward of up to £100,000 was placed on his head, detectives travelled to Cyprus and investigations were carried out in the West Indies in an attempt to find him.

Detective Inspector David Giles, from Suffolk Police, said previously: “As investigations at the time went, it was as good as it got. But policing has changed a lot since then and we have better resources available to us.

“Only a handful of people know how Eddie Maher got out of the UK and they’re not telling us.

“It seems likely that he did not carry out and plan this all on his own, and our inquiries are continuing.”

Maher’s life on the run ended in February 2012 when he was arrested by the authorities in Ozark, Missouri.

His capture came after a tip-off from his estranged daughter-in-law, with whom he was feuding after she discovered his secret past.

While a fugitive, Maher lived under the names of Stephen King and his elder brother Michael Maher.

Despite stealing nearly £1.2m he was declared bankrupt in 2010 and is believed to have lost all his money in the late 1990s after investing in a stock market-linked retirement fund.