Belfast Telegraph

Jail for Antrim engineer John Patterson who claimed he stole £38k to protect family

By John Cassidy

A former G4S engineer accused of faking his own 'tiger kidnapping' has been handed a 12-month sentence for stealing £38,000 from a cash machine in north Belfast.

John Patterson (52), of Carwood Way, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim was recently found guilty by a jury at Belfast Crown Court of burglary.

The charge related to the theft of £38,000 in £20 notes from an ATM at Cavehill Spar, Cavehill Road in north Belfast on December 12, 2011.

The jury found him not guilty of three further offences of converting criminal property.

Patterson admitted the offences but maintained throughout his trial that he was acting under duress on the orders of masked gunmen.

It was the prosecution case that Patterson's claims that he was acting under duress were made up.

A prosecution lawyer told the jury of six men and six women that Patterson claimed that on December 6 or 7, 2011, about six days before the burglary at the Cavehill supermarket, he was forced into a car by two masked gunmen.

He claimed they showed him photographs of his wife and family and told him they would be shot if he did not agree to carry out the burglary after taking the keys to the bank machine from a G4S vault at its headquarters in Mallusk, Co Antrim.

Prosecutor James Johnston also claimed that despite guidelines from G4S on how to deal with such 'tiger kidnap' situations, Patterson did not inform the security firm or work colleagues about the duress he was put under, even after the burglary.

The prosecutor also claimed that while Patterson said he was acting under duress and living in fear for himself and his family "it did not stop him going out for Christmas drinks with colleagues."

Mr Johnston added that even if such an approach had been made to him by gunman, "he had ample opportunity to contact the police or G4S and let them know what was happening".

Sentencing yesterday, Judge Kerr said "there may been an element of pressure in the case'', adding that there had been no explanation given to the court as to where the money had ended up.

He said that as a result of the burglary, Patterson had been declared bankrupt and his marriage had ended and he was also suffering ongoing health problems.

The 12 month sentence will be divided equally between custody and probation.

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