Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

PSNI 'trailed bank heist gang for over 60 miles'

Police who foiled an attempted heist outside a bank in Portrush trailed the alleged crime gang from Belfast, a distance of over 60 miles.

The details were revealed as four men appeared in court charged in connection with the robbery bid in the seaside town.

Officers swooped after a man armed with a 10-inch knife threatened a PSNI courier as he left the Northern Bank carrying a cashbox on Friday afternoon.

Yesterday three of the alleged gang members were remanded in custody at Coleraine Magistrates Court while a fourth was released on bail.

Alex Anthony Carlin, Joseph Thomas Savage, and brothers Patrick Joseph Craig and Paul Martin Joseph Craig are charged with robbery, going equipped for theft, possession of an offensive weapon and handling stolen goods. Carlin (36), of Margaretta Crescent in Belfast, and Savage (30), from the Stewartstown Road in Dunmurry, are further charged with driving without insurance.

Paul Craig (22), from Aitnamona Crescent in Belfast, is also charged with possessing an offensive weapon in public.

Three of the four spoke to indicate they understood the charges.

Carlin initially replied “no”, but his solicitor told the court his client had “no difficulty with the charges”.

The court heard how PSNI officers trailed two vehicles, a Volkswagen Golf and a Suzuki Grand Vitara which had been stolen in Downpatrick, from Belfast.

They entered Portrush, where officers were gathered to monitor the movement of cash from a G4S van outside the Northern Bank at Main Street.

A PSNI officer was transporting a cashbox when Paul Craig allegedly approached and threatened him with a large kitchen knife. Craig was then arrested.

The Golf and Suzuki vehicles drove off, and police later observed Patrick Craig (27), from Aitnamona Crescent in Belfast, throw a pair of gloves to the ground.

The court heard that Paul Craig made a full admission during police interviews. No bail application was made by Savage and Carlin. Both were remanded in custody to appear via video-link on March 26. Bail applications were made on behalf of the Craigs.

A detective constable opposed bail but a defence solicitor for Paul Craig rejected the officer’s concerns, adding that his client’s admission meant there was no risk of interfering with witnesses or absconding.

Turning to Patrick Craig, the solicitor said he denied all involvement in the robbery, and rejected the detective constable’s claims that his client might abscond or reoffend.

Judge Richard Wilson refused bail for Patrick Craig but granted it to Paul Craig on condition he obeys a curfew, makes no contact with his co-accused, stays away from Portrush and signs bail once a week.

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