'Most wanted' man arrested after six years

Click to follow
The Independent Online

One of Scotland Yard's most wanted men has been arrested in Holland six years after escaping from a prison van, police said today.

Noel Cunningham, 47, from Rotherhithe in south east London, was due to stand trial over a failed £1.25 million security van raid when he went on the run on June 10, 2003.

He was being taken from Brixton Prison in south London to Inner London Crown Court when the van was ambushed by two armed men.

The driver of the van was shot in the leg and a guard beaten about the head.

Cunningham, who was living under a false identity, was arrested by Dutch police last night in an Amsterdam suburb. He will now be extradited back to the UK.

He was sprung from custody along with Clifford Hobbs, who was arrested in Spain in 2007 before being extradited.

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said today: "Noel Francis Cunningham, 47, was arrested by Dutch police at about 8pm last night.

"Cunningham was unlawfully at large and a European Arrest Warrant had been circulated for his arrest after he escaped from a prison van on June 10, 2003. The van had left HMP Brixton to travel to the Inner London Crown Court, Avonmouth Street, SE1.

"Extensive work to trace him by the Metropolitan Police Service and the Serious Organised Crime Agency led to the false identity he was using being uncovered and his arrest last night in the Amstelveen suburb of Amsterdam.

"He will be appearing in custody in Holland on September 11 where extradition proceedings will be instigated following his first appearance."

Hobbs stayed with friends in south London before fleeing on a fake passport to France, Portugal and eventually Malaga.

He was jailed for life in February last year after a jury at Woolwich Crown Court found him guilty of having a firearm with intent to escape from custody.

He admitted organising an "inside job" on the security van in March 2003 and escaping from custody.

Officers, who had been tipped off about the security van raid, moved in as the vehicle made a pick-up from a cafe in Brixton's Effra Road.

Cunningham and Hobbs were arrested at the scene in a stolen BMW and sent to Brixton Prison to await trial.

Soon after he went on the run Cunningham's mother urged her son to give himself up.

Margaret Cunningham said: "He must give himself up. It's no good being on the run from the police."