A banker forced to smuggle £26.5m out of the Northern Bank in Belfast after his wife was kidnapped has described how he stuffed a sports bag with bundles of brand new £100 and £50 notes during his ordeal.
Assistant manager Kevin McMullan was told by the gang that his wife would be murdered if the robbery went wrong, but if all was well that she would be found safe and unharmed at the west Belfast home of a fellow banker whose family was also held hostage during the December 2004 heist.
But when he drove with bank supervisor Chris Ward to the latter’s home at Colinmill in Poleglass his wife Kyran was not there, he told Belfast Crown Court.
“I asked where Kyran was, nobody knew anything about her, nobody knew who she was or where she was,” he said.
Two members of the kidnap gang were in the house and he asked them where his wife was.
“They made it clear to me they did not know where she was or what had happened to her.”
He said he spoke to Chris Ward’s father.
“He said they were all fine and they had been treated fairly well. He said it hadn’t been too bad.”
Eventually the two gang members told him they were leaving and he should wait five minutes before driving to his home at Loughinisland, Co Down, where he would find his wife. He drove the 20 odd miles and when he arrived home “there were armed police all over the place”.
He added: “They told me Kyran had been found in a forest, was suffering from hypothermia, cuts and bruises and had been taken to the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick — I went there to see her.”
Mrs McMullan had been tied up and dumped in the Co Down forest and managed to free herself and raise the alarm at a house.
Mr McMullan spent a second day in the witness box detailing the robbery at the trial of his colleague Chris Ward who is the only person charged in connection with the robbery. Ward denies robbery and two charges of abduction.
Mr McMullan was in charge of the Northern Bank Cash Centre in Donegall Square on the day of the robbery while his boss was on holiday. He revealed he used a ruse to get the late shift staff to go home over two hours early so he and Ward could empty the vaults.
“I told them there had been a problem with the balance and myself and Chris were going to have to do a full note count. I told them that they were dismissed and everyone could go home.
“It didn’t take them very long to go, I think they were happy enough to get away,” he said.
He told the court that after the staff left, he and Ward stuffed a bag full of bundles of notes which Ward then carried outside. Ward then rang the gang for instructions of where to leave it.