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Co Down duo charged after ATM ram raid bid in Republic

Two men appeared before a special district court sitting yesterday charged in connection with the attempted robbery of an ATM machine.

Killorglin District Court in Kerry heard that a file was being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions on a third man.

Christopher Murney (24) and Thomas Wilson (29) appeared before Judge James O'Connor charged with stealing an ATM from the front wall of the bank on Main Street, Castleisland, Co Kerry, in the early hours of Saturday morning.

They are also charged with causing criminal damage to the bank.

Insp Barry O'Rourke of Killarney garda station said the gardai would be objecting to bail.

Both men were remanded in custody to appear at Killarney District Court tomorrow.

Gda Con Murphy told the court that, when charged, Mr Murney replied, "I'm sorry, but I did do it", and "I'm sorry, but I did that too". In reply to the charges Mr Wilson said: "I'm sorry. I apologise."

Sgt Patrick Sears said Mr Wilson -- who appeared in court with extensive scratching to his face and a black eye -- and Mr Murney were both from Co Down and he considered them a flight risk.

Mr Murney, of Chapel Hill Road, Mayobridge, Co Down, and Mr Wilson, of Sea Patrick Villas, Banbridge, were both unemployed and in receipt of £50 (?59) unemployment benefit per week.

Insp Barry O'Rourke said the attempted raid was a "very serious matter" and added that gardai believed the pair were members of a criminal gang.

"It is alleged that they attempted to dig out the ATM with a machine in the early hours of the morning. It is alleged that the digger was stolen in the Castleisland area and was set alight to destroy evidence," Insp O'Rourke added.

"If it had succeeded, it would have been a spectacular robbery.

"The accused men were subsequently intercepted by gardai from the Kerry district who arrived at the scene very quickly."

Gardai foiled the raid, which occurred at around 5am.

They found a number of men attempting to load the ATM, which had been pulled from the wall of the bank, on to a flatbed truck using a digger.

The facade of the bank was extensively damaged in what was the 20th such incident in the country over the last two years.

Two men fled the scene in a van, which attempted to ram the garda patrol car. They abandoned it around 10km outside Castleisland and fled onto bogland near a farm, but were captured by gardai after a violent struggle.

In a follow-up operation, a 45-year-old man from Co Fermanagh was arrested in Listowel, Co Kerry .

He was held at Tralee garda station for questioning, and released in the early hours of yesterday morning.

Belfast Telegraph