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Friday, 14 April, 2000, 20:34 GMT 21:34 UK
Noye: From street vendor to Mr Big
Kenny Noye
Kenneth Noye, flanked by prison officers, hears the verdict
Kenneth Noye revelled in his image of a rags to riches businessman. But his wealth and luxury lifestyle was funded by crime, including his role in Britain's biggest robbery.

Born in Bexleyheath, Kent, he grew up with his father, who ran a post office, and his mother, who managed a dog-racing track.

He left school at 15 with a prodigious work ethic and was proud to have several jobs at once. He started delivering newspapers and milk, helping in shops, selling programmes at greyhound tracks and also had a spell as a newspaper vendor in central London.

But he was tempted by crime at an early age and was sent away for receiving stolen cars.

At the age of 23 he married Brenda, an engineer's daughter, and trained as a process artist in the print trade.

Booming business

During the 1970s he worked nightshifts in Fleet Street.

But he soon tired of working for others and decided to go it alone, setting up a haulage company in a run-down caravan behind a garage in West Kingsdown, Kent.

He then went into the building trade, and then property - most noticeably making a 300,000 profit from a US trailer park.

Yet he again ran foul of the law and in 1977 he was given an 18-month suspended sentence for receiving and possessing a shotgun.

But his business prospered. In 1980 Noye built a 10-bedroom mock Tudor mansion on 20 acres of land near West Kingsdown.

Kenny Noye in police van
Kenneth Noye is taken to prison from the Old Bailey
He also bought a villa in northern Cyprus and a 700,000 yacht.

Then on 26 November 1983, six gunmen burst into a warehouse near London's Heathrow Airport. They doused security guards in petrol and threatened to set them on fire before escaping with a fortune in precious metal, jewels and cash.

The Brinks Mat bullion robbers took 6,800 gold bars weighing three tons, platinum, diamonds and traveller's cheques. The haul was valued at 26,369,778.

As detectives hunted the gang, the gold was melted down and sold.

Gold bars

The following February, Anthony Black - a security guard "mole" - was sentenced to six years at the Old Bailey.

The net was closing on the robbers. In December 1984 two of the gang were convicted and given 25-year terms. A third accused man was cleared.

Suspicion was also falling on Noye. That year to he flew to Jersey with a bag containing 50,000 in 50 notes. He also bought 11 gold bars from a bank, took them away in a shopping bag and deposited them in a safe.

Then in January 1985, a Scotland Yard detective investigating the Brinks Mat robbery was stabbed to death in the grounds of Noye's West Kingsdown home. Eleven gold bars were found hidden around the premises.

Noye was charged with murdering John Fordham. But the jury at his trial cleared him on a majority verdict, deciding that he acted in self-defence.

But Noye was back in court in 1986 and, after an 11-week trial at the Old Bailey, was convicted of conspiring to handle gold from the Brinks Mat robbery and conspiring to evade VAT payments. "I hope you all die of cancer," he shouted at the jury.

Noye was sentenced to 14 years and fined 500,000 plus 200,000 costs.

One of his co-defendants - who was acquitted - was a 25-year-old asphalter from Islington called Thomas Adams.

Tommy Adams was later to became one of the leaders of London's most notorious crime gang, the A Team, and in 1998 he was jailed for seven years for masterminding a cannabis ring.

It may have been Noye's connections with the Adams family which persuaded Scotland Yard to throw an armed cordon around the Old Bailey during his trial and give the jurors escorts to prevent "nobbling".

On his release in 1994 Noye returned home and managed to keep a low profile for two years until his name, and face, was once again emblazoned on the front of the nation's tabloids in connection with the M25 murder.

For a professional criminal with such a high profile to lose his rag and kill a man in broad daylight was unusual to say the least.

But as the prosecution suggested at his trial, it appeared Noye's fiery temper, and his injured pride were ultimately his downfall.

Taking a hiding from a younger man was too much for him to cope with and he reacted by knifing Mr Cameron to death.

But despite his success, Noye left the UK in 1996, and the following year his wife sold a squash club which he owned in Dartford, Kent.

He was arrested in Spain in 1998, and was extradited to Britain for the murder trial of Mr Cameron.

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14 Apr 00 | UK
M25 murderer jailed
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