ATM raid gang caused £20k damage to filling station, bail hearing is told
Thieves who used a digger to rip a cash machine from the wall of a shop in Co Antrim caused £20,000 worth of damage to the premises, the High Court has heard.
Prosecutors also claimed the raid at a service station on Tully Road, Nutts Corner, involved the same method deployed in eight other ATM attacks.
Details emerged yesterday during a bail application by a 21-year-old man accused of being part of the team who targeted the Costcutter store in the early hours of April 30.
Patrick Close, of Camlin Park in Crumlin, is accused of stealing the machine containing just over £59,000 in cash.
He is further charged with criminal damage, aggravated vehicle taking, theft of the digger from a nearby field and arson by then setting it on fire.
The court heard the ATM was wrenched out of the wall and put in the back of a stolen Land Rover. Police tracked the vehicle until it crashed into hedges, detaining a co-accused a short distance away. Although the money was recovered, a Crown lawyer said the machine will cost £16,000 to replace.
She also disclosed: "The damage to the Costcutter building itself is estimated to be approximately £20,000."
Close was arrested at an address in Belfast the following day based on information police received, a judge was told.
It was contended that preliminary cell site analysis placed a phone linked to him within 300 metres of the service station at the time of the raid.
Opposing bail, prosecution counsel said Close is believed to be part of a larger organised crime gang, with another suspect still at large. She added: "There have been eight previous incidents of this nature with very similar modus operandi and police are continuing to investigate."
Gavyn Cairns, defending, claimed there were "frailties" with the cell site analysis.
Stressing that his client lived just a few miles from the scene, he argued that there was an unreliability due to phone signals bouncing off different masts.
Mr Cairns also pointed out that Close was not arrested at the scene and contended: "This is a tenuous prosecution case."
Adjourning the bail application to await a more detailed cell site report, Mr Justice Colton highlighted prosecution submissions that the accused's phone was between 150-300 metres of the garage.
He said: "I would like to see whether there's a basis for that before I determine the matter."