'Vaulter bandit' suspect flown home on private jet

The prime suspect in an investigation into a series of Canadian bank robberies had to be brought back to Canada by private jet after resisting boarding a commercial plane in London, police said.

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A suspect in 21 bank robberies was arrested in Switzerland in September, but only returned to Canada on Saturday.

At a news conference Tuesday morning, York Regional Police said the suspect began to complain of chest pains on a flight from Switzerland to Montreal, so the plane had to land in London.

The suspect, 53-year-old Jeffrey James Shuman, was taken to hospital, where he was examined by a doctor then released into police custody. Doctors said he had no health problems at the time, police said.

He was brought back to London's Heathrow Airport, where he attempted to resist officers' efforts to board the plane.

"As a result of Mr. Shuman's disruptive behaviour, he was refused transport aboard that commercial airline, and any future commercial airlines," YRP Sgt. Mike Fleischaker said.

After all options had been explored, a private plane was chartered by the Ministry of the Attorney General, Fleischaker said.

Shuman appeared in a Toronto-area courtroom on Sunday, and will remain in custody until his next court date on March 11.

The extradition was a result of an investigation between York, Peel, Toronto, Ottawa, Hamilton and Calgary police forces, along with the Canadian Bankers Association and the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Law enforcement officials in Switzerland, France and the U.K. were also involved, YRP Insp. Larry Wilson said.

Shuman was arrested in connection to an investigation into the "Vaulter bandit," a robber who earned the nickname by jumping over bank counters during robberies.

"We are very pleased that Canada's most notorious bank robber has been returned to York Region to face the multiple charges against him," Police Chief Eric Jolliffe said in a statement before the news conference.

Shuman has been charged in connection with 21 bank robberies over the last five years. The robberies were reported in the Toronto area, Hamilton, Ottawa and Calgary.

The suspect faces 30 criminal charges including 11 charges of robbery with a firearm and 11 counts of use of an imitation firearm in the commission of a criminal offence, police said Tuesday.

Shuman has faced charges south of the border in connection with U.S. bank robberies, police said.

The American-French dual citizen once worked in the banking and mortgage industry, but was arrested in the early 1990s after a series of bank robberies in the Florida and Tennessee areas.

The U.S. robber was nicknamed the "Reebok bandit," and police said the man would vault over bank counters to commit his robberies. Shuman was convicted in the robberies and sentenced to approximately 12 years in prison. He served nine years before being paroled, Fleischaker said.

Once on parole, he fled the country, police allege. There is an outstanding U.S. warrant for his arrest, police said.


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