At around 6.30am on 26th November in 1983, a gang of 6 forced their way into the Brinks Mat warehouse. The aim if the gang, headed up by Mickey McAvoy and Brian Robinson, was to make off with what they suspected would be around £3m in cash. Assisted by information from Anthony Black, a security guard who worked at the warehouse, the gang routed the security staff and, having threatening to set them alight, learned the safe combination from them. A surprise waited the gang when they entered the safe as they found 6,800 gold bars stored in 76 chests, plus £100,000 of diamonds. The gold bars had a combined value of £26m and the crime that followed has gone down as the biggest UK gold bullion heist in history.
Getting rid of the gold
The gang finally left the warehouse after almost two hours, having being first forced to go and find a van capable of moving the haul. The next problem was how to change to gold bullion into money. Enter a legendary figure of the underworld known as ‘The Fox’. His connections led the gang to enlist the help of Adams family; a crime syndicate well known to the police. In turn the Adam’s family turned to a jeweller associate called Solly Nahome, who would melt and oversee sale of the gold bullion.
The police soon realised that inside information must have been part of the scheme and immediately began looking at Black. Black was brought in for questioning when enquiries turned up the fact that he was in relationship with the sister of Robinson – a criminal that they knew from past experience. It didn’t take long for Black to buckle under pressure and he gave up both Robinson and McAvoy. Faced with a mountain of evidence, including details of their recent spending sprees, the two men admitted their part in the crime.
Outcome of the trial
McAvoy hoped to negotiate a lighter sentence by way of a returning his share of the gold and so left it with some friends, one called Brian Perry. When the time came to hand the gold bullion back over, Perry refused. The police also arrested him and he was eventually given a 9 year sentence for handing the gold. Perry was gunned down shortly after leaving prison in what was a suspected revenge attack for his refusal to hand the gold back. Robinson and McAvoy both received a 25 year prison sentence for their role in the heist. Although the attempt was ultimately unsuccessful, the UK gold bullion heist went down in history and much of the gold was never recovered.