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Memories of Maher after airport heist

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 February 2002 | UPDATED: 11:19 03 March 2010

ROBBERS who escaped with £4.6 million in a daring raid on a cash van at Heathrow Airport have evoked memories of a major heist in Suffolk.

It was nine years ago that Eddie Maher got away with a £1m from a security van in Felixstowe town centre in a robbery which also bore all the hallmarks of cool, calm and carefully-calculated villainy.

ROBBERS who escaped with £4.6 million in a daring raid on a cash van at Heathrow Airport have evoked memories of a major heist in Suffolk.

It was nine years ago that Eddie Maher got away with a £1m from a security van in Felixstowe town centre in a robbery which also bore all the hallmarks of cool, calm and carefully-calculated villainy.

Today Scotland Yard's Flying Squad was still hunting for the two men who carried out the Heathrow raid and were examining the remains of their van, which they torched before making their getaway.

The British Airways van was found burned-out two miles from the airport in a residential area of Feltham, west London. The cash had gone. Residents told how they had seen it explode.

Earlier two Asian men had attacked the driver of a British Airways security van in a secure airside cargo loading area near Terminal 4.

The men – who may have had legitimate security passes – transferred eight red cargo cash boxes containing 6.5 million US dollars (worth around £4.5m) into another similar British Airways van before driving undetected from the airport.

The cash had arrived at Heathrow on a BA flight from Bahrain and it is understood it was destined for JFK airport in New York.

It was in 1993 that "Fast Eddie" Maher managed to steal £1m from a supposedly impregnable Securicor van at Felixstowe – and left him on the run for life.

Maher had parked up outside Lloyds Bank in Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, but drove off after his colleague went inside to make a delivery.

He drove the armoured van to the seafront, parking in Micklegate Road, where he unloaded the 50 cash bags into a Toyota Spacecruiser vehicle. It is not known if he was helped, but police have always believed he had an accomplice.

The Toyota was driven to a car park on the nearby Landguard peninsula. The cash was transferred to a car and, within minutes, Maher was on the A14, bound for an airport and the USA. His common-law wife and their child vanished at the same time.

At first, detectives did not even suspect Maher and believed he had been taken hostage because it was not thought possible to break into the van's stronghold.

He was later tracked to Boston, USA, but there the trail went cold.

A Suffolk police spokeswoman said today that the case remained open and any fresh leads or information on Maher's whereabouts would be fully investigated.

No-one was hurt in Maher's raid, but the security guard – specialist valuable cargo handler – attacked by the two men at Heathrow yesterday was treated for shock and minor injuries to his wrists at a West London hospital.

Detective Chief Inspector John Coles, of the Flying Squad, said: "This is obviously an extremely serious incident which is why the specialist operations Flying Squad are dealing. We are working with all the relevant authorities."

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