Eddie Maher was wanted by Suffolk police after the Securicor van he was driving disappeared from outside a Lloyds bank in Felixstowe, Suffolk on 22 January 1993.
The 57-year-old was arrested by US authorities in February last year, following a tip-off by a family member. Maher was working as a cable engineer in Missouri when his own daughter-in-law, Jessica King blew the whistle on his criminal past.
Mrs King had been romantically involved with the best friend of Maher’s son, Lee. She broke off that relationship to start one with Lee after he won money on the lottery. But the relationship eventually soured and she turned in his father after learning about the £100,000 reward money on Maher’s head.
Maher was held in custody while awaiting trial after denying the theft following his deportation. But today he entered a last-minute guilt plea at Southwark crown court. Jailing him, Mr Justice Nicol said: “You made a substantial gain even if, as you say, the money has now gone.”
Maher who used aliases of Stephen King and also his brother’s name, Michael Maher, while he was a fugitive, had intended to fight the allegation on the grounds that he had been forced to commit the crime after wracking up “significant debts”.
But Suffolk police and the Crown Prosecution Service built up evidence proving that the former soldier and firefighter had profited by hundreds of thousands of pounds from the heist.
During his time on the run he built a new life for himself with his partner, Deborah Brett, and their son Lee, who was three years old when they left the UK.
Brett, 47, Maher’s sister Margaret Francis, 64, and a 54-year-old man from Woodford Green, east London, are all on bail after being arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit theft.