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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 17:30 GMT
Following the Brinks money trail
The Brinks robbery remains an underworld legend
Two days after Robinson and McAvoy were jailed at the Old Bailey Garth Chappell withdrew 348,000 from Scadlynn's account at Barclays Bank in Bedminster, Bristol.

Over the next three weeks he withdrew another 1.1m from the same account.

The withdrawals were actually going on throughout the trial.

In total about 13m was paid into the account of Scadlynn.

The money was paid by respectable gold merchants, such as Johnson Matthey and Engelhards, for large amounts of gold.

Unbeknown to the buyers, the gold had been smelted from the high-grade Brinks Mat gold - using a smelter purchased from a foundry in Worcestershire - and mixed with copper to disguise its origins.

The Assay Office in Sheffield, which is responsible for handing out hallmarks to jewellers and gold merchants, had been an unwitting accomplice in the scam.

Scadlynn approached the Assay Office with the newly smelted gold and received a seal of approval, effectively given the "dirty gold" a clean bill of health.

While police were soon onto the robbers - Micky McAvoy and Brian Robinson were arrested 10 days after the raid - it took them much longer to get a lead on the gold.

Noye was acquitted of murdering PC Fordham
In January 1985, as they closed in on Kenneth Noye - one of those brought in to help with the smelting and laundering process - he stabbed to death PC John Fordham in the grounds of his Kent home as he conducted surveillance.

Noye was later acquitted of murder on the grounds of self-defence, having argued he thought the masked man in the darkness was a burglar.

But Noye, along with Chappell and two others, was later jailed for handling stolen gold.

The conviction of Noye and Chappell was by no means the end of the affair.

Brian Perry, an old friend of McAvoy, and his pal Gordon Parry began taking flights to Jersey, the Isle of Man, Switzerland, Spain and the United States.

Anthony White
Anthony White was found personally liable for 26m
A crooked solicitor, Michael Relton, also became a major conduit.

They paid money into newly created bank accounts, purchased plots of land on the Costa del Sol.

One account, in a bank in Liechtenstein, was in the name of the Moyet Foundation. Perry apparently named it in honour of his favourite brand of champagne, Moet & Chandon, but misspelt it.

In 1985 Anthony White, who had been acquitted of the robbery the previous year, bought a 146,000 house in Beckenham, Kent with cash.

Mr McCunn said: "In the autumn of 1986 the police had discovered the property empire created using the robbery proceeds, and the involvement of Relton.

The proceeds of the robbery are still circulating and have gone up 10 times in value. The cash has been invested in everything from ecstasy smuggling to building projects.
Wensley Clarkson
"Almost his first reaction on being arrested was to talk to the loss adjusters. We assumed he feared a long sentence, and hoped to reduce it by co-operating and assisting in the recovery."

Relton provided the police and Shaw & Croft with detailed information about bank accounts and property and gave the latter letters of authority to overseas banks so they could collect evidence directly.

He stopped co-operating after receiving threats, but Shaw & Croft already had enough detail - and the crucial letters of authority - and they went about freezing various bank accounts and assets both in the UK and abroad.

Gordon Parry: Took frequent flights to Zurich
Most of these - including an oil well in Kansas - were eventually recovered by Mr McCunn's team.

But Noye's biographer, Wensley Clarkson, told BBC News Online: "There is still a lot of gold which has never been turned into hard currency.

"The proceeds of the robbery are still circulating and have gone up 10 times in value. The cash has been invested in everything from ecstasy smuggling to building projects."

He said: "The value of the robbery - 26m - would be worth about 100m in today's terms and it has not all gone on parties and drugs."

But Mr Clarkson said there was something of a curse on the money: "A lot of people have paid the ultimate price for keeping hold of the money. Some people were upset that they did not get their fair share of the loot."

In search of thieves' gold
26 Jan 04  |  UK

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