'You may never be released', judge tells fugitive who escaped from dock
One of Britain's most wanted criminals who went on the run for four years after vaulting over a court room dock midway through his armed robbery trial has been told he may never be released from prison.
Fugitive Andrew Moran, 34, was handed an indeterminate sentence and imprisoned for public protection by the same judge whom he had fled from in 2009 whilst on trial for conspiracy to commit robbery and escaping from lawful custody.
After years evading arrest, in which he travelled across Europe and was pictured with at exotic destinations with luxury cars, motorbikes and firearms, the prolific criminal was dramatically arrested in Spain when covert police swooped down on him at his Alicante luxury villa in May 2013, as he relaxed in his shorts with friends by his pool.
The "dangerous" defendant appeared via videolink from HMP Belmarsh prison at the sentencing hearing at Liverpool Crown Court.
Judge Norman Wright said on imposing the imprisonment for public protection (IPP) told him, "you may never be released".
He continued: "You are a ruthless, determined, devious and cunning criminal. You have involved yourself in a premier league criminal lifestyle in all its aspects.
"I have come to the conclusion that you are dangerous."
He cannot apply to the parole board until he has served eight years and 236 days and even then he must prove that he is no longer a threat to the public.
Moran, from Salford, Manchester, had been on trial for a daylight robbery on a Royal Mail van in which £25,000 was stolen when he escaped past security at Burnley Crown Court in March 2009, before fleeing the country on a false passport.
The hearing was told that as Judge Wright began his summing up of the armed robbery case and upon telling Moran he was being remanded, Moran had exclaimed, "I can't be remanded I've got a funeral to go to".
After a struggle with dock officers, in which one female officer was injured, he ran past more security staff.
Prosecutor Timothy Brennand said: "The defendant began to struggle with the dock officers. Moran became more and more agitated, pulling free and managing to launch himself over the dock. A number of dock officers and court staff attempted to give chase but Mr Moran made good his escape."
He was later convicted in his absence of conspiracy to commit robbery outside the Asda supermarket in Colne, Lancashire, where armed with a gun and truncheon, he had carried out an "audacious robbery in broad daylight", holding the gun to the security guard James Hodkinson's neck and shouting "kill him" to his accomplice as he was beaten.
Mr Brennand told the court that the defendant - who has a number of convictions - had been part of a team who had targeted the Royal Mail van on May 13 2005 as the crew were transferring cash bags outside the Asda supermarket.
Crew member Mr Hodkinson was approached by two men in balaclavas and motorcycle helmets. The Crown say Moran had been brandishing the handgun, while the other man carried a machete.
Judge Wright said the robbery had been "meticulous" and "very carefully planned".
He said: "The robbery was over in seconds and had been carried out with almost military precision and discipline. He (Mr Hodkinson) thought he was going to be shot and killed, he thought next he was going to be hacked to death. The ferocity of the attack still lives with him."
He added that he believed he had taken Moran by "surprise" when telling him he was to be remanded and added that he believed Moran's primary motivation was not to jump the dock but to escape while on bail.
Mr Brennand added: "Mr Moran was able to make use of considerable skill and resources to keep himself at large for a significant period of time."
Moran, who was said to have had a "fascination with firearms", had even changed his appearance with plastic surgery to avoid capture while on the run.
A European arrest warrant was issued for Moran, who also featured on Crimestoppers' most wanted list of criminals who were at large in the country.
He was eventually traced after a joint operation was launched by Titan (the North West Crime Regional Unit), the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Spanish national police.
But in November 2012, he escaped from Spanish national police after a sophisticated road block was set up on a road known to be used by Moran.
Following a high-speed chase, with Moran reaching speeds of up to 130mph after ramming two police out of the way, and forcing another police vehicle to crash as he drove along a motorway in the wrong direction, he escaped.
Moran's eventual arrest six months later was caught on film as he attempted to flee again by trying to jump over a wall.
A loaded firearm, ammunition, false passports, cannabis, cocaine and 25,000 euro were recovered from the villa he had been staying in.
He was sentenced to a prison sentence of six years and six months after pleading guilty to drugs, firearms and road traffic offences while on the run and is currently serving the sentence in the UK.
Recovered mobile phone pictures showed that the defendant had led "a criminal lifestyle" as he travelled across Europe with his then girlfriend Gemma Harvieu, who had worked at a cosmetics counter at Selfridges and who had wired cash from the UK to her career criminal boyfriend.
Pictures showed the defendant in a helicopter and holding sub-machine guns as well as pictures of the couple under the Eiffel Tower, at ski resorts, in Monaco and posing with expensive cars and motorbikes.
Moran was said to have used false identity documents on ''a persistent basis'' and had secured a false passport shortly before the commencement of his trial and a further false passport had coincided with the commission of the robbery in 2005.
At his disposal, the defendant had no fewer than five false names.
Judge Wright added: "The beginning of the end of your flight from justice occurred in November 2012, there the police on information set up a road block to trap you. Your response to the predicament was smash your way through."
He added: "You will stop at nothing to achieve your aim.
"It finally ended in May 2013 when you were sunbathing around the pool of a villa, indeed seen nationally on the television and has become notorious on the internet."
His barrister Julian Nutter said that Moran's "record was not as bad as some".
"The reason he ran, he is adamant that he ran in order that he could attend a funeral of a close friend, and adamant that he meant no harm to the custody officer, he was simply trying to get through the door. That was what was in his mind when he fled, then he decided he was not coming back."
Mr Nutter continued: "In Spain he has not shot anybody, not pistol whipped anybody, not been involved in any serious act of violence. The young man who committed robbery is not the person who is before you today. When he was brought back he pleaded guilty to the escape offence."
He submitted that the judge refrain from handing down an Imprisonment for Public Protection (IPP) sentence because, "there are far worse cases of robbery than this and far worse examples of behaviour which have not been found to justify a IPP".
Detective Inspector Simon Cheyte, of Lancashire Constabulary, who investigated the 2005 armed robbery and has been involved in the decade-long bid to bring Moran to justice welcomed the sentence.
He 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."