After realising that the game was up, McAvoy hoped to use his considerable newly found wealth to negotiate a lighter sentence, so he placed his faith in the 'honour amongst thieves' maxim, and entrusted his share of the gold with a variety of friends for safekeeping, including one named Brian Perry.
In December 1984, following their trial, both McAvoy and Robinson were jailed for 25 years.
Not surprisingly, when McAvoy sought to reclaim his property to negotiate a reduced sentence, neither gold nor money was forthcoming. McAvoy felt betrayed by Perry, who was subsequently arrested for handling the gold. Perry’s life was threatened during his trial, for failing to return the property and, after serving a nine-year sentence, he was gunned down on 16 November 2001 shortly after his release.
Despite the incarceration of Robinson and McAvoy, the police made scant headway in the search for the missing bullion, which still required conversion into cash. Perry recruited Kenneth Noye into the ever-growing circle of Brinks Mat associates. Noye appeared to have some expertise in the gold smelting trade, as well as connections with John Palmer, the owner of a Bristol-based gold dealership.
Noye's brilliant idea was to introduce copper into the gold during the smelting process, thereby altering its carat rating, making it virtually untraceable. What he had in technical expertise, however, he lacked in pure common sense, and he was caught when the gang withdrew £3 million in cash from a single bank branch in Bristol, a sum so large that the Treasury and police became involved.
In January 1985, during an undercover operation, Noye discovered DC John Fordham in his garden at his Kent home and, in the row that ensued, the officer was stabbed to death. Noye was arrested for murder but at his trial, the jury believed the defence case that he acted in self-defence, and he was acquitted by a majority decision.
Following the discovery of 11 bars of gold in his home, Noye was on trail again in 1986, along with one of the Adam’s family, Thomas Adams, which led to his conviction of conspiracy to handle the Brinks Mat gold, in addition to VAT evasion charges. He received a 14-year prison sentence and was also fined a total of £700,000.
He was released in 1990, but ten years later was convicted of murdering Stephen Cameron, in a road-rage incident on the M25, and he is now serving a life sentence for this crime.
Police estimate that 15 people were involved in the planning of the Brinks Mat robbery but only three of the gang members were ever convicted. Despite concerted efforts to bring the rest to justice and investigative work spanning two decades, the police have been forced to accept that the majority of the loot has been spirited away to foreign safety deposits or simply recycled into the wider London jewellery trade, providing for the comfortable old age of a number of criminals still at large.