French court jails 'Robin Hood' security guard for three years
A French court on Tuesday jailed for three years an armoured van driver who became an Internet hero nicknamed Robin Hood when he made off with over 10 million euros in cash.
The sentence was the maximum that Toni Musulin, a 39-year-old former employee of the Swedish security firm Loomis, faced for the November 5, 2009 theft in the central city of Lyon.
Musulin surrendered to police in Monaco 11 days after he abandoned his armoured van and made off with 11.6 million euros (15 million dollars) stuffed in dozens of sacks.
Police found the empty armoured vehicle in Lyon hours after the heist and two days later discovered nine million euros in a lock-up garage, but 2.5 million are still missing.
During his testimony, Musulin denied hiding the missing money and suggested the millions may have been lost when he was loading them in his getaway truck or stolen at the garage.
"I didn't take the money. I don't have the money," he told the judge, who remarked that, oddly, only large bills of 500, 200 and 100 euros were lost.
"I was throwing the bags and they were dropping anywhere. They slid, because they were plastic bags. It was hard work, I really had a tough time," Musulin said, sparking laughter from the public gallery.
Musulin complained bitterly of being under-paid during the 10 years he worked at Loomis and said his employer often made mistakes on his paycheck.
"In the end, I did something that I shouldn't have, and for that, I have my bosses to thank," he said.
Musulin was also convicted of insurance fraud related to the 2009 theft of his Ferrari sports car, which could land him in jail for five years.
The driver declared the Ferrari stolen in April 2009, according to investigators. He emptied his bank accounts and his apartment before the security van heist.
Musulin earned less than 2,000 euros a month in the Loomis job, yet had managed to buy the Ferrari.
He lived a quiet life in Villeurbanne, near Lyon, where he liked to pump iron at the local gym.
The theft rapidly turned the van driver into an Internet sensation, with several pages on the social networking site Facebook and elsewhere appearing overnight to praise France's new anti-hero.
"The World is Yours: Tony Best Driver 2009" page drew a steady stream of comments describing the theft as "the heist of the century."
Facebook users created a "Tony Musulin for president" page, while members of the "Tony Musulin fan club" said he was a hero for his "no guns, no violence" approach.
© 2010 AFP