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UK man gets 5 years for ’93 heist

LONDON — A British man, nicknamed ‘‘Fast Eddie’’ after brazenly driving off with an armored van full of bank­notes and coins, was sentenced Tuesday in London to five years in jail following nearly two decades hiding out in the United States.

Edward J. Maher was working as a guard for a security company in 1993 when authorities say he took off with the van as a colleague was making a bank delivery.

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Although the abandoned vehicle was later discovered, its booty of about 30 bags containing some $1.5 million worth of coins and notes was gone — and so was Maher.

British media breathlessly covered the search for the man they dubbed ‘‘Fast Eddie’’ in the days after the heist. The trail went cold, until he was arrested in Missouri on a tip some two decades later.

After initially denying the theft, Maher entered a last-minute guilty plea at London’s Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday.

Detective Inspector David Giles said that although Maher had insisted he was forced to carry out the crime and had only made a small amount of money off the heist, he had never put forward a credible story.

‘‘We have succeeded in proving that he profited substantially from the theft and was a key player in the planning and execution of it,’’ Giles said Tuesday outside the court in London.

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