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'Police uncover money washing plant'

Police hunting machete-wielding cash-in-transit robbers uncovered a production plant for washing banknotes, the High Court heard today.

Equipment used to clean off dye and then iron the money was found at a cattle shed in north Belfast, prosecutors said.

Details emerged as bail was granted to one of the men accused of involvement in a £10,000 heist.

Terence McCafferty, 44, faces a charge of robbery from a G4S security van outside an off licence on Belfast's Old Park Road in February.

A guard was ordered to hand over a cash box containing the money by a man brandishing a samurai or machete-type sword.

Police then tracked two men in a car to the shed off the Crumlin Road, the court was told.

Fiona O'Kane, prosecuting, said McCafferty, of Carlisle Road in Belfast, and a co-accused were arrested after coming out of the barn 25 minutes later.

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Inside the property police found large quantities of cash in mixed denominations, a basin of red liquid, smoothing irons, gloves, towels and a machete.

A strong chemical smell was also detected.

Mrs O'Kane said: "Police described the scene as a production plant for washing and ironing bank notes.

"It was clear the efforts were to attempt to wash dye and smart water from the notes and dry them with the irons."

Defence barrister John O'Connor pointed out that detectives no longer suspect McCafferty to be the robber armed with the sword.

"He's gone from potentially, on the Crown case, of being at the forefront of this robbery right down to somebody at the tail end of the cleaning operation," he said.

It was also stressed that the accused has complied with five previous temporary releases on compassionate grounds.

On that basis, and because his co-accused is no longer in custody, McCafferty was granted bail.

Mr Justice Horner directed that £4,000 in cash must be lodged in court as a surety before he can be released.

Curfew and electronic tagging conditions were also imposed.

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