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Alcoholic jailed for stealing £11k from faulty bank ATM which he spent on drink

By John Cassidy

Published 14/04/2016

A recovering alcoholic has been jailed for four months after he admitted stealing £11,000 from a faulty Ulster Bank cash machine and blowing the money on drink
A recovering alcoholic has been jailed for four months after he admitted stealing £11,000 from a faulty Ulster Bank cash machine and blowing the money on drink

A recovering alcoholic has been jailed for four months after he admitted stealing £11,000 from a faulty Ulster Bank cash machine and blowing the money on drink.

A judge told Peter Anthony Young (58), of Hunter's Way, Ardglass, Co Down, that he had "deliberately taken advantage" of the major glitch in the bank's system almost four years ago.

Prosecution lawyer Laura Ivers told Downpatrick Crown Court that on June 22, 2012, Ulster Bank had "experienced a computer malfunction in its system" which enabled customers to withdraw funds from ATMs without it affecting their balance.

"Following a check, Ulster Bank discovered that Young, who was one of its customers, had £11,000 withdrawn from his account on that day," said Ms Ivers.

Judge Stephen Fowler QC was told that there had been 22 separate withdrawals of £500 on the day in question. The prosecution lawyer said the bank made repeated attempts to contact Young without success before eventually reporting the incident to police as "fraudulent".

The PSNI started an investigation, the court heard, and Young voluntarily attended a police station and admitted making the withdrawals, telling police he had "spent the money on drink".

Ms Ivers added that Young had "made no effort to pay back the funds" and the outstanding balance now stood at £10,908.40p.

Defence counsel Eugene Grant QC described it as an "unusual case" and said that when Young was interviewed by police in September 2014 he made "frank admissions" to his crimes.

He told the court: "Reading between the lines from the court papers, it appears Mr Young was in the company of other people drinking with them that day and when he was taking money out it became apparent to him and the others that there was a fault with this machine. This was always going to come home to him."

Mr Grant said Young's life had "taken a downward spiral" following the death of his mother in 1991 and said that by the age of 34 he was an alcoholic, homeless and "living on the streets of Belfast".

The defence QC said father-of-five Young was now a recovering alcoholic, who was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, was part of a church group and attending a rehabilitation programme.

The judge said Young, who is living on social security benefits, had not repaid any money. "I don't believe I could deal with this case by way of a suspended sentence. The least sentence I can impose is one of four months in custody."

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