He said: “The temptation to commit the offence must have been too great.

“It will be for confiscation proceedings which will follow in due course to
decide quite how much your benefit was from this theft.

“You told the authorities after your arrest that you only received £40,000.
Your wife has said it was about £200,000.”

Maher, who used the false identities of Stephen King and his brother Michael
Maher while on the run, intended to fight the allegation on the grounds that
he had been forced to commit the crime after racking up “significant debts”.

But Suffolk Police and the Crown Prosecution Service built up evidence proving
that the former soldier and firefighter had profited to the tune of hundreds
of thousands of pounds.

During his time on the run, Maher built a new life with his partner, Deborah
Brett, and their son Lee, who was three years old at the time of the theft.

After his conviction, detectives revealed details of a series of property
investments they say he funded from the proceeds of the crime.

This included a house in Colorado bought with 120,000 US dollars in cash just
six months after the theft.

Later Maher built a ranch on 80 acres in Colorado before moving around various
US states.

At the time of his arrest on February 9 last year, he was working as a cable
engineer in Missouri.

But his attempts to escape justice unravelled as he was arrested for illegally
possessing firearms.

When US authorities contacted their UK counterparts about immigration issues,
it became clear he was a wanted man.

Speaking outside court, Detective Inspector David Giles, from Suffolk Police,
said: “Maher said he was forced to carry out this crime and that he only got
a small amount of money from it.

“He never named the people who he claimed forced him into it and never put
forward a credible story.

“We have succeeded in proving that he profited substantially from the theft
and was a key player in the planning and execution of it.

“Since his arrest, he has displayed no remorse for what he did – but I get the
impression he has spent 20 years looking over his shoulder and hoping the
law would not catch up with him.”

Ms 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.

‘Fast Eddie’ – British fugitive in US jailed for five years over cash van theft – Telegraph.co.uk
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