Loughton incinerator thefts

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Loughton incinerator thefts
Bank of England printing at Debden.jpg
The Bank of England Printing Works, where the thefts took place
Date c. April 1988 (1988-04)c. March 1992 (1992-03)[1]
Location Loughton, Essex
Coordinates 51°38′55″N 0°05′26″E / 51.6487°N 0.0905°E / 51.6487; 0.0905Coordinates: 51°38′55″N 0°05′26″E / 51.6487°N 0.0905°E / 51.6487; 0.0905
  • Christine Gibson
  • Peter Gibson
  • Kenneth Longman
  • Janet Longman
  • Michael Nairne
  • Sharon Nairne
  • Kevin Winwright
Outcome Between £600,000–£700,000 stolen
Verdict Guilty
Convictions Winwright sentenced to 18 months in prison; remaining participants ordered to repay £500,000 to the bank

The Loughton incinerator thefts occurred between 1988 and 1992 at the Bank of England's incinerator plant in Loughton, Essex – four employees of the plant stole more than GB£600,000 in a series of regular thefts. The four participants and their spouses were arrested in 1992, with only one being prosecuted in criminal court. In a civil suit, the remaining members of the group were ordered to repay half a million pounds to the bank. The story of the case has been adapted into two feature-length films.


Between 1988 and 1992, four employees of the Bank of England's incinerator plant in Loughton conspired to steal in a series of thefts more than £600,000 worth of banknotes that were due to be destroyed.[2] One participant, Christine Gibson, smuggled the notes out of the plant by stuffing them into her underwear.[3] Gibson initially worked in collaboration with just two other employees, Kenneth Longman and Michael Nairne, before the trio were approached and joined by a fourth individual, Kevin Winwright, who acted as their "look-out" and distracted the guards.[4] During this time, the group and their spouses lived a "life of Riley", spending their gains on expensive cars, motorcycles and jewellery.[5]

Arrest and trial[edit]

The group was brought to the attention of the police after Gibson's husband, Peter, attempted to make a deposit of £100,000 at the Ilford branch of the Reliance Mutual Insurance Society entirely in 20- and 50-pound notes – soon after, Nairne attempted to make a deposit of £30,000 at the same branch.[3] All four colleagues and their respective partners were soon arrested, but only Winwright was prosecuted – he admitted to stealing £170,000 from the plant and received an 18-month prison sentence.[3]

The six remaining participants were tried at the High Court of Justice in April 1994. The case, Bank of England v Gibson, was overseen by Judge Norman Rudd, with Winwright giving evidence on behalf of the bank.[3] After a two-week trial, Rudd delivered his judgment on 26 April 1994, ordering the three families to repay more than half a million pounds to the bank.[1] As no witnesses who had given evidence in the High Court were willing to speak to the police, all three couples escaped criminal convictions.[5]

Film adaptations[edit]

The story of the thefts was adapted into two films: first in 2001 as Hot Money, a television movie made for ITV starring Caroline Quentin,[6] then again as Mad Money, a 2008 film based on ITV's production, starring Diane Keaton.[7]

Similar crime[edit]

A similar crime was committed in 2000, when two bank clerks stole 110 sacks of notes valued at £23,000 that were due to be incinerated – the two participants were sent to prison for six and nine months respectively.[8]


  1. ^ a b "Judgement – Bank of England v. Gibson". Cork: University College Cork. Retrieved 19 December 2012. 
  2. ^ Cannon, L. M. (1995). "Civil remedies for theft — issues for banks". Journal of Financial Crime. 2 (4): 290–294. doi:10.1108/eb025652. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Banknotes 'stuffed in woman's underwear': Bank sues families over 'stolen' pounds 600,000". The Independent. London: Independent News & Media. 13 April 1994. ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 240904920. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  4. ^ Cusick, James (14 April 1994). "Bank had deal with employee over thefts". The Independent. London: Independent News & Media. ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 240904920. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  5. ^ a b MacKinnon, Ian (27 April 1994). "Banknote thieves told to repay pounds 1/2 m: Families' extravagant lifestyle ends with court order to give up ill-gotten gains". The Independent. London: Independent News & Media. ISSN 0951-9467. OCLC 240904920. Retrieved 17 December 2012. 
  6. ^ "Stealing from the Bank of England". New Straits Times. Kuala Lumpur: Media Prima. 19 October 2002. p. 19. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  7. ^ "Thursday News Round-Up (January 25)". Empire. Bauer. 25 January 2007. ISSN 0957-4948. OCLC 40516612. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 
  8. ^ "Bank clerks jailed for stealing notes". The Daily Telegraph. London: Telegraph Media. 4 November 2000. ISSN 0307-1235. OCLC 613316876. Retrieved 18 December 2012. 

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