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Two men remanded over charges connected to ATM thefts in Irish Republic

Fearghal Nolan and Michael Muckian are both facing charges of handling stolen goods in connection with the raid.

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The scene at Clanbrassil street in Dundalk, Co Louth, where two ATMs where stolen in a late night raid (Niall Carson/PA)

The scene at Clanbrassil street in Dundalk, Co Louth, where two ATMs where stolen in a late night raid (Niall Carson/PA)

The scene at Clanbrassil street in Dundalk, Co Louth, where two ATMs where stolen in a late night raid (Niall Carson/PA)

Two men have been remanded in custody accused of handling stolen goods in connection with the theft of two ATMs in the Irish Republic.

Fearghal Nolan, 24, of Bonds Road, Silverbridge, Co Armagh and Michael Muckian, 29, of Carrive Road, Silverbridge are charged with handling stolen property and possession of criminal property.

It is in connection with the robbery of two ATMs in Dundalk, Co Louth, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Craigavon Magistrates’ Court heard there was approximately 240,000 euro (£210,451) in the two ATMs, but that they have not yet been opened.

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Two ATMs were stolen in a late night raid (Niall Carson/PA)

Two ATMs were stolen in a late night raid (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Two ATMs were stolen in a late night raid (Niall Carson/PA)

It also heard that Muckian has been displaying suspected symptoms of coronavirus and is being held in the Covid-19 section of Musgrave custody suite.

Nolan appeared in court via videolink from Lurgan police station and indicated he understood the charges.

A police officer said they believed they could connect both men to the charges.

The prosecution detailed to the court that in the early hours of Saturday morning vehicles previously stolen in Co Monaghan were driven to the Garda station in Dundalk where they were set alight, blocking the exit.

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Craigavon Magistrates’ court heard there was approximately 240,000 euro in the two ATMs (Niall Carson/PA)

Craigavon Magistrates’ court heard there was approximately 240,000 euro in the two ATMs (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Craigavon Magistrates’ court heard there was approximately 240,000 euro in the two ATMs (Niall Carson/PA)

“At twenty past three that morning the Garda observed via their CCTV system an ATM theft taking place on Clanbrassil Street in Dundalk,” she told the court.

“A lorry with a low loader holding a digger drove into the street followed by a white car, we say which was towing a trailer, a male exits the vehicle, gets on to the digger and a number of suspects were seen, all covered faces but appearing to communicate via walkie talkie.

“The lorry is then driven to the bottom of Clanbrassil Street to block the road and the suspect in the digger then proceeds to take the two ATMS, one from the Ulster Bank, one from the AIB, and place them on the trailer.

“The Garda arrives within seconds of the suspects leaving the scene and a pursuit of the two vehicles ensued. The red Mercedes was lost early in the pursuit but they were able to follow the trailer on which the two ATMs were observed, until it crossed into Northern Ireland on the Edenappa Road in Jonesborough.”

She said the Garda helicopter monitored the vehicle to an address in Mullaghbawn, and saw two suspects.

The PSNI then located the trailer before arriving at the address where arrests were made.

She said the defendants initially denied involvement when interviewed at Lurgan police station, before adopting a no comment approach to questions.

The prosecution objected to bail contending they may commit further offences and might fail to surrender with addresses so close to the Irish border.

A defence lawyer confirmed there was an application for bail on behalf of both men.

We're in the middle of an island-wide lockdown, so where would he go if he were to go over the border?Defence lawyer

He contended at a first hearing there is “no real opportunity” for the defence to challenge the facts as they are set out.

“But there is a presumption of innocence, and more importantly there is a presumption in favour of bail,” he told the court.

He challenged the arguments against bail, contending no basis for the claim they may reoffend had been set out, and that an electronic tag could be used.

He also said it would make “no sense” to go to the Republic of Ireland.

“We’re in the middle of an island-wide lockdown, so where would he go if he were to go over the border? He couldn’t leave the island of Ireland, the only place he could go would be the Republic of Ireland where he is wanted on more serious charges,” he added.

The case against Muckian was heard without him appearing with similar arguments set forward.

District Judge Eamonn King said the details of events around the ATM thefts “seems to be like a military operation”, before a “hot pursuit” by police in the Republic of Ireland and police in Northern Ireland.

“The court has been told there could be a sum of 240,000 euro involved in this alleged offence and with the degree of organisation and the manner in which the operation was carried out, this is a sophisticated operation,” he said.

“I am not satisfied that there can be any grounds or conditions that the court could attach to bail that would allay the concerns of the prosecution in this matter so therefore bail is refused.”

The defendants are due to appear on April 29.

PA