And So It Ends: Lee Murray Sentenced to 10 Years in Moroccan Prison

Lee Murray

(“Oh Tito, I knew you’d come around.”)

BBC News is reporting that former UFC middleweight fighter-turned bank robber, Lee Murray was sentenced to ten years in prison in Morocco for his part in an armed £53,116,760 (about $92.5 million US) Securitas money depot heist in Kent, England in February 2006.

If you are unfamiliar with the story here’s a synopsis of what went down, courtesy of Neatorama:

“HOW THEY DID IT: Picture this: You’re driving along a road in Stockbury, England, when the whirring sirens of an unmarked police car startle you from your evening commute. You roll down your window and chipper police officer tells you he needs to speak with you – in his vehicle. Oops, you’ve just been kidnapped. That’s how Colin Dixon was unwittingly reeled into one of the biggest heists of the century. The crooks handcuffed Dixon – a manager at the Securitas cash collection and money transport company – and told him his family would be killed if he didn’t comply. Meanwhile, fellow gang members abducted Dixon’s wife and son, posing once again as police offices with a fake story about “an accident involving your husband”. The manager led the thieves to the Securitas depot in Tonbridge, where the criminals- wielding guns and cloaked in knit caps – accosted another 14 employees and made off with a giant trick full of loot. While the event was certainly traumatic for all the victims, fortunately, no one was injured.

HOW THEY GOT CAUGHT: Good old-fashioned police work. Apparently, it takes a lot of accomplices to stage multiple kidnappings. In total, investigators have arrested about 30 people in connection with the crime, including drivers, face police, a car dealer, a salesman, a roofer, and a hairdresser named Kim Shackleton. Guess where she’s headed?”

The majority of those involved in the crime, who have since been arrested, fingered Murray as the mastermind, but since the English-born fighter also had Moroccan citizenship, he fled to the North African country to escape prosecution. Eventually, he was arrested as part of an exchange deal that saw an alleged terrorist thought to be responsible for the 2003 Casablanca bombings returned to Morocco from Britain for prosecution.

A prison escape by Murray was foiled last June when an inmate ratted him out for having a number of small saws, a laptop computer and a quantity of “hard drugs” in his cell, discovered when the prisoner broke into it to steal some of his belongings.

Less than half of the stolen money, the remainder of which is thought to be hidden in the Middle East, has been recovered.

According to the BBC report, it is thought that Murray wore a prosthetic device on his face to disguise his identity as he posed as one of the police officers who ambushed the depot manager and abducted his wife and child.

Although prosecutors say he was the boss of the operation and seemed to be very precise and organized in planning and executing the operation, one little mistake he made actually may have sealed Murray’s fate.

“Murray is also believed to have been the robber dubbed “Stopwatch” by detectives because he was seen on the CCTV tape bossing the gang around and timing their every move.

He organised the raid with military precision and ensured the gang left the depot after being on site for less than an hour.

Murray inadvertently provided key evidence for police when he crashed his car shortly before the robbery, and fled the scene leaving his mobile phone in the vehicle. He had accidentally pressed the record button on the handset during a conversation about the robbery with fellow plotter Lea Rusha, which was later recovered and used by prosecutors.”

At least we’ll always have Lee’s epic streetfighing stories, since we’ll likely never see him fight again inside a cage, unless the UFC starts an oldtimers division some time before he’s released in 2020.