Belfast Telegraph

Belfast man accused of ATM thefts denied bail

A High Court judge denied Brian McCullough bail (stock photo)
A High Court judge denied Brian McCullough bail (stock photo)

By Alan Erwin

A man allegedly involved in raids on up to nine cash machines across the greater Belfast area must remain in custody, a High Court judge has ruled.

Brian McCullough 41, was refused bail amid claims that he formed part of an organised crime gang who scouted and then broke into the ATM bunkers.

A previous court heard £120,000 was stolen and £50,000 damage caused to the targeted installations.

Prosecutors also said attacks using the same methods have ceased since the arrests of McCullough, from Ridgeway Street in Belfast, and his three co-accused.

He is charged with a series of burglaries at service stations and other commercial premises between December 2018 and May 2019.

McCullough and two other alleged ATM thieves were detained following the most recent attack on the Gilnahirk Road.

According to the prosecution gang members scouted machines by using a bank card to make balance inquiries.

Angle grinders and crowbars were then deployed to force open bunker doors and gain access to the cash stocked inside.

The court was told McCullough and one of his co-accused allegedly carried heavy tools over to the Gilnahirk Road installation and discussed how to break in.

An associate kept watch and called out a warning when any cars passed, it was claimed.

The trio were arrested in the general area when police moved in, with a PSNI helicopter said to have been used to track their movements.

A fourth man, the alleged getaway driver, was detained and charged on a later date.

Opposing bail, the prosecution claimed McCullough's DNA cannot be excluded from DNA found on a bag of heavy tools recovered after one of the burglaries.

His card was also said to have been used at targeted ATMs.

McCullough denies involvement in the raids, stating during interviews that he had a legitimate reason for being at any of the relevant locations.

Defence barrister Richard McConkey insisted his client has not been formally identified as being present during the attacks.

Counsel also pointed to breaks in continuity between the police helicopter tracking suspects and McCullough's arrest.

"He gave an account of why he was in that area at that particular time," Mr McConkey added.

Refusing bail, however, Mr Justice Huddleston held there distinguishing features between McCullough and a co-accused previously released.

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