Little Bits of History

Gold Rush

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2015
John Palmer*

John Palmer*

November 26, 1983: The Brink’s MAT robbery takes place at Heathrow Airport. The plan had been to steal about £3 million from the warehouse. When Anthony Black, the security guard, let the robbers in, they found much more inside. There was £26 million worth of gold, diamonds, and cash. That’s worth about £75 million in today’s currency. Once the thieves were inside, they poured gasoline over the staff and threatened to light them on fire if they did not reveal the combination to the vault. The thieves were given the combination and made off with tons of gold bullion along with the other items.

Two days after the robbery, a couple in Bath noticed a white-hot crucible operating in a garden. Since this device is known for its use to melt metals, the couple became suspicious. They informed police who arrived but found the hut out of their jurisdiction. They promised to inform the correct police precinct. The couple who made the discovery were never asked for an official statement and were never asked to appear in court. The local police did not only not take a statement, but they did not contact any other police stations. It was not until 14 months later that the premises were raided and the smelter found. It was only then that John Palmer, a local jeweler and bullion dealer, was arrested. He testified that he had no idea the gold he had melted was associated with the robbery and was found innocent and released.

Black gave the name of his brother-in-law, Brian Robinson, who was arrested in December 1983. Black and Micky McAvoy were tired in December 1984 and both sentenced to prison with the former getting 6 years and the latter getting 25 years. McAvoy gave his share of the proceeds to Brian Perry and George Francis, his partners in crime, to dispose of. Perry hired Kenneth Noye to get rid of the gold since he was an expert in such things. It might have worked but the movement of such large amounts of gold came to the attention of the Bank of England who called in police. He was under surveillance and killed a police officer who was in his garden. Noye was found to have acted in self defense. He was fined for his part in the robbery as well as given a 14 year sentence, of which he served 7 years.

About 3.5 tons of the gold has never been recovered and four others involved in the robbery have never been convicted. By 1996, it was thought that much of stolen gold, the part that had been smelted, had made its way back into the legitimate gold market. There is some speculation that anyone wearing gold jewelry purchased in the United Kingdom after 1983 is probably wearing some of the gold taken in this heist. Noya, after his release from prison, killed again. This time in a fit of road rage. He fled the country but was captured in Spain and extradited. He is now serving a life sentence for this second crime. The goods stolen had been insured by Lloyd’s of London and they paid out for the losses. The bank who owned the assets went out of business the following year after a number of shady transactions led to a collapse.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. – J. R. R. Tolkien

Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all: only our characters are steadfast, not our gold. – Euripides

Avarice is fear sheathed in gold. – Paul Eldridge

O accursed hunger of gold, to what dost thou not compel human hearts! – Virgil

Also on this day: Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
Puck You – In 1917, the National Hockey League was founded.
KV62 – In 1922, Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb.
Water – In 1805, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct opened.
We Interrupt This Program – In 1977, the Southern Television broadcast was interrupted by an “alien”.

*”John Palmer 1950-2015″ by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

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