'Fast Eddie' held in US 19 years after £1m raid

British man wanted over security van robbery in Suffolk is arrested by immigration officials

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The Independent Online

A British man wanted in connection with a £1m security van robbery has been arrested by police in the United States after spending the past 19 years on the run.

The family of Eddie Maher – known to police as "Fast Eddie" – expressed dismay after he was held by immigration officials in the apartment complex where he lived with his wife in a quiet residential area in Orzark, Missouri.

Detectives from Suffolk Police are keen to question the former firefighter over a 1993 robbery in Felixstowe in which 50 bags containing £1m in coins, £20 and £10 notes was stolen.

The money was loaded into a getaway vehicle before being transferred to another car which was later found burnt-out in Essex.

Shortly afterwards Mr Maher, 56, vanished along with his girlfriend and their son Lee, then aged four.

It is thought that Mr Maher flew to Boston after the robbery, where he adopted a new identity.

Since then there have been unconfirmed sightings of him in 17 different countries.

His son, Lee King, said his life had been turned upside down by the news of his father's arrest.

He wept as he told KSPR television that until then he did not know he had been born in the UK and believed he was two years younger than he actually was.

"My dad is one of the nicest guys you'll meet, he's only ever done what's good for us. He doesn't commit crimes, and he's the one that gets me out of trouble," he said.

"I just don't want people to see him in a bad light for something he did 20 years ago. There's no way he'd ever do this by choice."

Mr King said the family moved around a lot when he and his brother were young because of his father's job. They had spent the last two years living in the Orzarks where Mr Maher – who called himself Mike – worked for a local cable company.

FBI representative Bridgette Patton said that the arrest came after police were informed of "a possible fugitive in the area".

"We were led to believe that the individual in question could possibly be Eddie Maher, a fugitive from the United Kingdom," she told CNN.

A US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman confirmed he had been arrested on immigration charges.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said: "We are liaising with the US authorities regarding the detention of Eddie Maher, who police wish to speak to in connection with a security van robbery in Felixstowe in 1993."