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ATM engineer to stand trial accused of using fake tiger kidnapping to steal £38k

By Alan Erwin

Published 16/09/2015

An ATM engineer is to stand trial accused of using a fake tiger kidnapping to steal £38,000, a judge ruled today.

John Patterson allegedly raided the contents of a north Belfast cash dispenser and then used some of the money for a deposit on a caravan.

The 51-year-old, of Carwood Way in Newtownabbey, denies the offences and claims he was forced to act at gunpoint, his lawyer said.

Patterson appeared before Belfast Magistrates' Court charged with burglary and three counts of converting criminal property.

 He is alleged to have stolen £38,000 in cash after going into the ATM bunker at a Spar store on the Cavehill Road in December 2011.

 A day later, according to charge sheet, he made lodgments of £4,000 and £2,160 in cash into two separate bank accounts.

 The third converting criminal property allegation relates to the payment of a £3,528 to a caravan company based in Portrush, Co Antrim in May 2012.

 Appearing before Belfast Magistrates' Court today for a preliminary enquiry hearing, Patterson confirmed he understood the charges against him.

 He declined to call witnesses or give evidence at this stage.

 Defence barrister Mark Farrell told the court: "A prima facie case is not conceded, but we do not intend to make contrary submissions."

 However, District Judge Amanda Henderson based prosecution submissions that Patterson has a case to answer.

 She granted an application to have him returned for trial at Belfast Crown Court on a date to be fixed.

 Seeking a certificate for two counsel to represent Patterson, Mr Farrell confirmed plans to mount a defence of duress.

 He said: "This is an alleged fake tiger kidnapping case.

 "Effectively the defendant's case is that he was the victim of a tiger kidnapping where he was held at gunpoint by a criminal gang and forced to remove £38,000 from his employer.

 "The prosecution case is that that's false."

 Patterson was released on £750 bail to return to court when his trial is due to get underway.

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