Brinks Mat Robbery
One of the most spectacular and lucrative robberies in British history took place at Heathrow Airport on November 26 1983, when six armed men burst into the Brinks Mat warehouse at the airport and overpowered guards there, cracking one over the head with a pistol.
The robbers, it turns out, had expected to find £3 million in cash; instead they found £26 million in gold bars, and two bags of diamonds. Planned as an in and out job, the removal of the gold actually took over two hours – first they had to fetch a van in which to carry the three tonnes of bullion. Guards had been hand-cuffed and threatened, and had petrol poured over them to ensure cooperation; the criminals evidently knew the layout of the building and how to deactivate its security system, and had been wearing security officer uniforms when they arrived.
Police investigating the crime rapidly concluded a guard who had missed the robbery because he arrived for work late had been involved: this guard, Anthony Black, when interrogated gave information about his sister’s boyfriend, Brian Robinson, and hard man Michael McAvoy. The latter pair got 25 years, Black six. It did not hurt the police case that Robinson and McAvoy had both bought mansions in Kent for cash just after the robbery. McAvoy had even named two Rottweilers he bought Brinks and Mat.
Many criminals involved in the robbery and subsequent events have been jailed, had their property seized, or in some cases been murdered. Some only half-jokingly refer to the curse of Brinks Mat now. It would appear that McAvoy had placed his share in the hands of a major crime figure in London - for safe keeping, though it proved anything but. McAvoy, Robinson and another figure linked to the crime, Tony White, have orders against them which mean their earnings largely go to the court to help recover the £28 million cost of the robbery. The notorious Kenneth Noye was jailed for his part in melting the gold down and hiding its origins by adding copper to alter its purity. A jeweller called Solly Nahome who handled some of the gold was gunned down in December 1998. But in the end, the gold has never been recovered.
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