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Brink's-Mat robbery ringleader 'Mad' Mickey McAvoy 'died of broken heart' after death of wife Kathy

BRINK'S-Mat robbery ringleader "Mad" Micky McAvoy must have squirrelled some cash away from the notorious gold bullion robbery, despite being "shafted" by other criminals while in prison, a former top detective who worked on the case believes.

McAvoy, 71, (above) died of a "broken heart" at his Bromley home during the New Year celebrations six months after the death of second wife Kathy, according to loved ones.

In 2003 McAvoy told reporters he did "not receive a penny" of the proceeds and was a reformed character, but he was known to regularly visit Spain's Costa del Sol, where he had a villa.

Former Scotland Yard commander Roy Ramm, who worked on the case, said last night: "He was clearly shafted while in prison, but clearly had some means of living and there was no evidence of him doing any decorating work as claimed."

Former Met Police DCI Dave McKelvey believes McAvoy was still involved in organised crime after his release from prison.

He was a PC when the robbery happened and not involved in the Brink's-Mat investigation, but got intelligence on him when he became a detective investigating organised crime.

He said: "His name kept coming up."

In 2007 Mr McKelvey received intelligence that an organised crime group had ordered a contract killing on him and two other officers after they unearthed an Aladdin's Den of stolen and counterfeit goods in east London and were investigating the network.

The hit ultimately never went ahead.

He added: "Intelligence I received was that McAvoy met with two other top-level criminals in Spain to arrange the contract."

Boxing trainer Peter Fury (above left), uncle of heavyweight world champion boxer Tyson Fury, announced McAvoy's (above right) death.

He posted a tribute on Instagram with the above old picture of him and McAvoy together.

He wrote: "My true friend for 30 years gave up his battle last night to be with his loving wife Kathy. You're together now. Love you both beyond life, until we walk together again. Micky McAvoy RIP."

Former art fraudster Paul "Turbo" Hendry told his Art Hostage podcast on YouTube the same day a relative of McAvoy's told him the former robber "couldn't live without Kathy."

McAvoy, also known as "The Nutter" due to a violent temper, was one of the masterminds behind the £27million gold heist nearly 40 years ago when they threatened to shoot and burn two security guards to get safe combinations.

On November 26 1983 the hour-long raid netted 6,800 gold bars, worth about £100 million today, after six armed men broke into the Brink’s-Mat security depot near Heathrow Airport, aided by another security guard inside-man.

The robbery was plotted by McAvoy and Brian "The Colonel" Robinson (above), whose brother-in-law was Anthony Black, the inside-man.

McAvoy was played by Sean Bean in the 1993 TV movie about the robbery Fool's Gold and is due to be portrayed in the forthcoming BBC six-part drama series The Gold, starring Hugh Bonneville.

McAvoy and Robson started spending after the robbery, trading south London council homes for Kent mansions.

Laundering the proceeds proved to be a major headache, involving a string of other top-tier criminals, including killer Kenneth Noye and the late John "Goldfinger" Palmer.

McAvoy and Robinson were jailed in 1984 for 25 years each and were released in 2000.

Black got six years and the four other robbers avoided prosecution.

McAvoy got Brian Perry and George Francis to launder his share of the gold, who in turn passed it to Noye (below).

It led to a string of murders and untimely deaths, some only loosely connected to the robbery, that became known as the Brink's-Mat curse.

About 20 deaths have been linked to the curse, starting with the killing of undercover detective John Fordham by Noye who he stabbed in the grounds of his mansion, where he was hiding some of the gold, in 1985.

He was later cleared of murder on grounds of self defence.

In 1990 former Great Train Robber Charlie Wilson was shot dead in Spain after losing £3 million of Brink's-Mat cash being laundered through drugs.

Perry was shot dead in 2001 as was Francis two years later.

McAvoy was a suspect in Perry's murder, but never charged, and it remains unsolved.

In 2015 Palmer met the same end at his Essex mansion.

Robinson avoided such a grisly end, but died aged 78 in a nursing home in Kidbrooke in February 2021, reportedly penniless.

Mr Ramm said: "When you think we were about the same age and from working class backgrounds in London it led to some odd encounters with him (McAvoy) in a maximum security prison. He was shafted by people like Brian Perry and when you look at the trail of other crimes and people killed all the way up to John Palmer (below), it really is a horrific story. Palmer was clearly involved in laundering some of the bullion and to be assassinated in your garden is not an everyday occurrence."

With McAvoy's death it is unlikely any missing Brink's-Mat cash will ever be located.

In 1986 a syndicate of underwriters at Lloyd's of London, the insurers of the Brink's Mat company, recruited solicitors Shaw and Croft to trace and recover as much of the stolen money as possible.

Solicitor Bob McCunn spent years trying to recover cash from anyone involved in handling it.

In 2004 it was reported by the BBC that he recovered about £25 million worth of money, but that £9 million was deducted for fees and costs and about £10 million could still be missing.

Mr McCunn said: "I met his ex wife and got some recoveries from him (McAvoy), but can't say how much."

He said the total amount recovered overall was confidential and no further recovery action could now be taken due to being time barred.

He added: "There has been no action on the case now for 10 to 12 years."


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