Brink's-Mat robber Micky McAvoy has died aged 71 just months after his wife passed away from cancer.
McAvoy, dubbed 'The Nutter', was part of the criminal gang which stole £26million worth of gold ingots, diamond and cash in the 'crime of the century' after raiding the warehouse at HeathrowAirport in 1983.
The career criminal, who was known as one of the country's most prolific and violent armed robbers, played a major role in one of the largest bullion heists in British history.
McAvoy had suffered from cancer and passed away on New Year's Eve at his Bromley flat in south east London, where he lived alone, the Sun reports.
Police had long suspected McAvoy was still active in criminal circles during his time in prison, with one informant suggesting he was involved in a drug-smuggling plot.
In his last days, McAvoy was said to have been struggling financially after devoting himself to caring for his ailing wife,Kathy who died from cancer just six months ago.
The pair wed in prison in 1987, three years after McAvoy was sentenced to 25 years behind bars for his role in the Brink's-Mat robbery.
At the time of his most lucrative crime, McAvoy was just 30, and the youngest of the gang of six robbers who masterminded the Brink-Mat heist on November 26, 1983.
McAvoy used his painting and decorator career as a front, but was known to Scotland Yard and was even part of their 20-strong database on London's most prolific armed robbers.
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Just three years before the Heathrow heist, McAvoy was involved in another major robbery after making off with more than £811,000 in cash after ramming a crane into a Brink's-Mat van in London.
He, along with his criminal accomplices, were suspected of a string of other high-profile crimes in the capital during their heyday.
Ex-Scotland Yard chief Roy Ramm told the Sun: 'McAvoy was one of the most violent and prolific robbers of his generation.
'He was feared among his peers and had been a top target of Scotland Yard for years.
'When he was eventually imprisoned for Brink's-Mat there was a sense of a job well done and relief.'
Tributes for the career criminal poured in on social media, including one heartfelt post by Tyson Fury's uncle who posted on Instagram: 'My true friend gave up his battle last night to be with his loving wife Kathy.
'Your [sic] together now, love you both beyond life, until we walk together again. Micky McAvoy RIP.'
During the Brink's-Mat robbery, Brian 'The Colonel'Robinson was joined by his brother-in-law Anthony Black and associate Michael McAvoy and three others as they raided the warehouse at Heathrow airport.
The gang made international headlines afterstealing 6,800 gold ingots, diamonds and cash which would be worth well over £100million today.
The property belonged to security company Brink's Mat and the robbers were there because they knew there was £3million in cash tucked away inside the vault.
Security guard Anthony Black, had pre-warned them about the cash and even opened the door of the warehouse to let the criminals in.
The gang tied up the guards and poured petrol over them, threatening to light it if they didn't comply.
Over the years, with less than half of the Brink’s-Mat gold recovered, an extraordinary number of McAvoy's criminal associates have been murdered or disappeared.
It is estimated that more than 20 people with some kind of connection to the robbery have been killed, as Britain's criminal underworld turned on itself in a desperate attempt to find the gold - most of which has never been found.
McAvoy's share of the £26million loot was later stolen while he was locked up, with police suspecting he ordered the contract killing of the man entrusted to guard his loot.
His death comes as a six-part BBC drama on the Brink's-Mat heist is due to be broadcast later this year.
The Gold will follow the decades-long chain of events that followed what has been described as 'the crime of the century' and air across six episodes on BBC One and Paramount+ globally.
The Brink's Mat heist: How robbers pulled off the 'crime of the century'
Shortly after 6.40am on November 26, 1983, six armed men in balaclavas – including one wearing a Trilby – entered a warehouse at Heathrow airport.
The property belonged to security company Brink's Mat and the robbers were there because they knew there was £3million in cash in the vault. They knew because their inside man, security guard Anthony Black, had told them. He even opened the door of the warehouse to let them in.
Led by Black's brother-in-law, Brian Robinson, and Trilby-clad Michael 'Micky' McAvoy, the gang tied up the guards and poured petrol over them, threatening to light it if they didn't comply.
Thanks to Black, they were able to identify the two most senior guards who, between them, held the keys and combination numbers for the vault where three safes were located.
Inside was more than three tonnes of gold bullion. Packed into more than 70 cardboard boxes were almost 7,000 gold bars. Someone had to fetch the van.
Weighed down by a heap of gold, the van idled its way out of Heathrow after one of the robbers wished the security guards a merry Christmas.
It didn't take the police long to connect Black to the raid and he soon implicated Robinson and McAvoy (who punched Black when he went to identify him in a police line-up).
The pair hadn't exactly laid low after the robbery, spending cash on property in Kent. It was rumoured McAvoy had bought two rottweilers to protect his new home and named them Brinks and Mat.
The two were later sentenced to 25 years in prison. Black was sentenced to six years. Stealing the gold had been relatively easy. The bigger challenge was selling it.
The robbers turned to crime boss Kenneth Noye, who, along with another criminal, Brian Reader, handled the gold. It was regularly taken to a smelting company near Bristol where it was mixed with copper and brass to look like scrap gold.
About £13millon-worth was disposed of in this way. The movement of cash through a local bank soon aroused the suspicion of the Bank of England and surveillance operations of known villains began.
Noye appeared in court in 1986 after police found 11 gold bars worth £100,000 on his premises. He was found guilty of handling the Brink's Mat gold and was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
He is currently serving time in prison for the 1996 roadrage killing of 21-year-old Stephen Cameron on the M25 in Kent.
Only two of the gang that entered the warehouse were ever convicted of the crime but there were greater repercussions.
It is estimated that more than 20 people with some kind of connection to the robbery have been killed, as Britain's criminal underworld turned on itself.
Meanwhile Reader, Noye's former right-hand man, was the ringleader behind the £14million Hatton Garden jewellery raid. He was sentenced to six years and three months in jail last month.