Northern Bank robbery to be revisited in new BBC documentary 16 years later
It is the biggest heist in British history and yet, 16 years later, the mystery of the Northern Bank theft in Belfast remains unsolved despite a massive international police investigation.
Now a new BBC documentary takes an in-depth look at the theft that nearly derailed the already fragile peace process in Northern Ireland.
In a highly sophisticated operation that took place days before Christmas in December 2004, the gang held two families hostage for 24 hours, forcing two bank workers to steal £ 26.5million from the cash register.
Heist: The Northern Bank Robbery takes a fresh look at the heist and the unanswered questions. With exclusive access to new source material – including 999 police calls as well as internal bank video surveillance, Northern Ireland journalists Darragh McIntyre and Sam McBride come together to shed new light on one of the most notorious cases in criminal history between the UK and Ireland.
Through interviews with key players – in politics, police and financial crime – they find out what happened to the main suspects in the cross-border police investigation and wonder if the theft may have inadvertently helped the peace process.
Besides talks with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former PSNI Police Chief Sir Hugh Orde, Dr Mitchell Reiss, US Special Envoy to Northern Ireland under the Bush administration and others , the film also features an interview with Ted Cunningham, the Cork-based financier who was the first person convicted of the Northern Bank theft.
He has been charged with money laundering in connection and now insists he is innocent of all charges.
Speaking in the hour-long program, Cunningham promises to “fight until the day he dies” and how that “is not the end of the story”.
He said, “I know who I got the money from and it wasn’t from the Northern Bank.”
Although he admitted two counts of money laundering in his second trial, Cunningham maintains his innocence by saying he ‘feared for his life’.
“As far as the state is concerned, they needed a downfall guy, I’m the victim,” he added.
Heist: The Northern Bank Robbery airs Monday, May 3 on BBC One NI at 9 p.m. ET.