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Charity worker who stole 4bn caught giving cash out to needy

Robin Hood thief gave cash bundles to the poor

A charity worker who staged Austria's biggest ever robbery and stole over 3 million GBP so that he could feed starving children in Africa has been arrested as he handed the cash out to the needy.

The married man, who is the father of an 18-month-old baby, has not yet been named because of Austrian privacy laws. He stole the money from a security van and knew about the best way to carry out the robbery because he had been a policeman himself before he was forced to retire after being shot.

He had then set up a private security business, and been sent to work in Africa where he had seen for the first time the incredible poverty of people, and especially children, and had returned to Austria a changed man.

The money he stole was being transported across Vienna before Christmas in a security van from the firm Loomis. It was destined to fill cash machines being used by Christmas shoppers, and he had staged the raid after persuading a female ex-Loomis employee to help him "spread wealth around the world", he told police.

The raiders were wearing face masks and pulled a pistol on the delivery men before they tied them up and made off with boxes of cash.

But they were caught when police analysed footage taken on a cash machine security camera that the security guards had been filling when they were robbed.

Loomis staff were asked if they could identify either of the robbers, and one of them pointed out that the woman in the image had a resemblance to the ex staff member.

The money was found in the attic of the man's in laws home in Carinthia where he had hidden it without their knowledge. He was in the province to celebrate Christmas with his family, and he had already started shoving bundles of money through the letterboxes as anonymous donations to the needy.

He told police he had however only given away a fraction of the cash, as he wanted to give the bulk of it to orphans in Africa. He named the 'Blue Sky' village in Equatorial Guinea as the main place he hoped to help, by building houses and schools for children in need.

His wife said: "With the security job, he had an assignment in Africa. When he was there he saw the starving children and this really affected him. Since then he was never the same. He was always planning charitable projects, and was always talking about dividing up wealth around the world."

The pairs lawyer Werner Tomanek confirmed he had often donated to charity and helped people in need.

He said: "He wanted to send the money to Africa in a container full of cheap electronic items. He was keeping it in the attic until he got it organised. He told the family that the cases were full of old documents. Some of the money he also anonymously put through people's letterboxes who he knew were in financial difficulty."

The pair are both currently in custody.

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