Most wanted fugitive may never leave prison

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One of Britain’s previously most wanted fugitives has finally been jailed for an armed robbery – more than 10 years later.

Andrew Moran (33) had been on the run from police for four years after escaping from Burnley Crown Court during his trial for the robbery.

Andrew Moran

Andrew Moran

He had fled to Spain where he was arrested in 2013.

Yesterday he was back before the judge from whom he fled to face sentence for the robbery and for absconding from lawful custody.

He was handed a fixed term prison sentence of more than eight years at Liverpool Crown Court. He will only be considered for release once this indeterminate sentence has been served and he can prove it is safe for him to be released.

In May 2005 Moran and his criminal associate, Stephen Devalda (29), held up a Royal Mail van outside Asda in Colne, Lancashire. A hand-gun, machete and baseball bat were used during the £25,000 raid in which a security guard was injured.

Andrew Moran

Andrew Moran

Moran was later arrested but it was during his trial at Burnley Crown Court in February 2009 that he assaulted a security guard, vaulted over the dock and escaped. He was subsequently convicted in his absence of conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

He fled to Spain where he to tried to evade capture by disguising his identity by using a number of forged passports and foreign identity documents which bore his photograph but not his real name. These included Lithuanian, Polish and Irish false passports.

A joint operation was launched by TITAN (the North West Crime Regional Unit), the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Spanish national police to locate him. He was traced but when Spanish officers went to arrest him, he crashed his car into them and made off in his vehicle.

He was then caught following a raid in May 2013 at a luxury villa in the Calpe area of Alicante. Two handguns, 60 rounds of ammunition and a machete were recovered.

In 2014 Moran was sentenced to six years and six months imprisonment in Spain for drugs, firearms and road traffic offences committed in Spain while on the run. He was returned to the UK last year.

The detective who investigated the 2005 armed robbery and has been involved in the decade long bid to bring Moran to justice welcomed the sentence.

Det. Insp. Simon Cheyte, of Lancashire Constabulary, said: “This is an extremely satisfying result. I have been involved in this investigation from the very start and was actually one of the first police officers to arrive on the scene in May 2005 when the report of a robbery was received.

“Andrew Moran is obviously a very dangerous and resourceful individual who has gone to extreme lengths to evade capture. My small team and myself have worked extremely hard over a long period of time to bring the perpetrators of this violent robbery to justice and it is very rewarding to see Andrew Moran starting a significant prison sentence today.

“I would like to thank everyone, be they members of the public or members of any law enforcement agency both in the UK and abroad who have contributed to this moment and they should be very proud of what they have assisted in achieving.”

Stephen Devalda was jailed at Preston Crown Court in November 2011 for nine years and eight months for conspiracy to commit robbery and seven months for breaching bail.

A number of others were convicted of helping Moran while on the run.