Belfast Telegraph

Man used £15k stolen from Danske Bank during technical hitch to repay loan sharks

A man who stole almost £15,000 from Danske Bank over a three-hour period was handed a combination order yesterday
A man who stole almost £15,000 from Danske Bank over a three-hour period was handed a combination order yesterday

By Ashleigh McDonald

A man who stole almost £15,000 from Danske Bank over a three-hour period was handed a combination order yesterday.

Mark Thomas Irwin took advantage of a technical fault with the bank to withdraw £14,835 from several ATMs in Belfast and made another three unsuccessful efforts to take out a further £850.

The 35-year-old, who used the money to pay back loan sharks over gambling debts, was given two years' probation and ordered to complete 60 hours' community service.

Crown prosecutor Natalie Pinkerton told Judge David McFarland that Irwin's offending was carried out over a short period between 10.15pm on September 6, 2017, and 1.10am on September 7.

The theft occurred at a time when Danske Bank was experiencing technical difficulties.

The malfunction affected ATMs and meant customers were able to withdraw unlimited funds, regardless of how much was in their accounts.

In the three-hour timeframe, Irwin, from Lord Street Mews in east Belfast, withdrew cash from six ATMs, some of which he returned to.

When the bank became aware of the malfunction and the subsequent thefts, its officials contacted the PSNI.

Ms Pinkerton said Irwin met with police voluntarily in June last year and accepted he had withdrawn the cash.

The prosecutor said the defendant told officers he knew he didn't have that amount in his account and also revealed he had been in touch with the bank and had offered to repay the amount at £50 per month.

Irwin, Ms Pinkerton said, accepted what he had done from the outset and said he used the cash to pay back gambling debts.

He told police he did not want to give the names of those he owed money to for fear of his own safety.

When asked how he became aware of the glitch, Irwin said he heard a woman in a shop on the Castlereagh Road telling people "the bank was giving away free money".

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