Scene of the Brink's Mat Heist
On November 26, 1983, six robbers break into the Brink's-MAT warehouse at Heathrow Airport, London and steal millions in gold, diamonds and cash. At the time, it was described as "the crime of the century.” The robbers gained entry to the warehouse from security guard Anthony Black, who was in on the heist.
Once inside, they poured gasoline over staff and threatened them with a lit match if they did not reveal the combination numbers of the vault. The robbers thought they were going to steal £3 million in cash. However, when they arrived, they found three tones of gold bullion and stole £26 million worth of gold, diamonds, and cash.
In December, one of the robbers, Micky McAvoy, was arrested after security guard insider Black, his brother-in-law, gave his name to investigating officers. Scotland Yard quickly discovered the family connection and Black confessed to aiding and abetting the robbers, providing them with a key to the main door, and details of security at the facility. McAvoy was eventually found guilty and sentenced to twenty-five years imprisonment for armed robbery, and Black was sentenced to six years. Before his conviction, McAvoy had entrusted part of his share to associates Brian Perry, George Francis, and Kenneth Noye. The gold was melted down and recast for sale. However, the sudden movements of large amounts of money came to the notice of the Treasury Department, who informed law enforcement of the unusual activity. Noye was placed under police surveillance. In January 1985 he killed an undercover police officer but at the resulting trial, a jury found him not guilty on the grounds of self-defense. In 1986, he was found guilty of conspiracy with regards to the Brink's-MAT heist, fined £700,000 and sentenced to 14 years in prison. He served seven years before being released in 1994. Attempts by McAvoy to strike a deal to give back his share of the money in exchange for a reduction in his sentence failed. In January 1995, the British High Court ordered McAvoy to pay £27,488,299, making him responsible for the entire sum of the heist. In 2000, he was released from prison. Most of the stolen gold has never been recovered and the other four robbers were never convicted.
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