Eddie Maher: Fugitive thief's £129k pension pot seized

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Media captionMaher pleaded guilty to theft after 20 years on the run

A fugitive thief who escaped justice for nearly 20 years after driving off in a security van containing £1.17m is to have his £129,000 pension seized.

Eddie Maher was jailed for five years in March after being arrested on firearms offences in the United States.

He vanished after driving away from Lloyds Bank, in Felixstowe, Suffolk, in January 1993.

A judge at Ipswich Crown Court ruled Maher's fire service pension should be seized under the Criminal Justice Act.

Maher, 58, who became known as Fast Eddie, worked as a cash-in-transit guard for Securicor.

Declared bankrupt

He was jailed at Southwark Crown Court after admitting theft.

Maher's life unravelled when his son Lee King's disgruntled ex-wife Jessica King contacted US authorities to tell them he was a wanted man.

Image caption The many faces of Eddie Maher, who was also known as Stephen King and Michael Maher, during his time on the run

The ex-London firefighter and pub landlord, formerly of South Woodham Ferrers, in Essex, was arrested over immigration and firearms offences in February 2012 before being deported to the UK.

Maher, who told prosecutors he had only had a share of the £1.17m he escaped with, was declared bankrupt in 2010 with debts of more than £19,000 ($30,000).

Det Insp David Giles, who led the Suffolk police investigation, said: "Although when arrested he had no assets or money, what he did have was a pension which had been accruing over the previous 20 years.

"It is pleasing to hear the result at court today and to know that some of the money, albeit only a small proportion, has been confiscated from Maher."

The court ruled the confiscated money should be paid back within six months, with £50,000 paid to G4S, formerly Securicor, and the remaining £79,000 given to insurers Equitas.

US properties

Judge David Goodin told Maher: "You will have six months to pay and, should you fail to do so, you will serve two-and-a-half years consecutive with your current prison sentence."

Image caption Maher lived in three houses in three years after arriving in the US

Maher appeared via video link from HMP Belmarsh for the Asset Recovering Hearing, wearing a grey T-shirt.

Asked if he understood the order, he said: "Yes sir, I understand."

Hugh Gilmour, G4S director of risk, said: "Although the Securicor brand disappeared some years ago, the case has not been forgotten.

"We are pleased that police and prosecutors will now be able to return a proportion of the sum he stole through the confiscation of other assets."

After Maher's conviction, detectives revealed details of series of property investments which they said he funded from the proceeds of the crime.

This included a house in Colorado bought with $120,000 (about £75,000) in cash just six months after the theft.

He later built a ranch on 80 acres of land in Colorado before moving around various US states.

At the time of his arrest, he was working as a cable engineer in Missouri.

Suffolk Police have been searching for possible accomplices but so far nobody else has been charged in connection with the incident.

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