Two jailed at Limerick Circuit Court for ATM theft

Excavator used to steal ATM from Castleisland bank

TWO men were jailed for six years at Limerick Circuit Court after they drove an excavation machine into the front wall of an AIB bank as part of an early morning attempt to steal an ATM machine.

25-year-old Christopher Murney, Mayobridge Co Down, and 30-year-old Thomas Wilson, Banbridge, Co Down, pleaded guilty to the unlawful taking of an excavator, arson, criminal damage of a wall at the AIB, Main Street Castleisland and the theft of an ATM machine containing over €230,000 in cash.
The court heard that at 5am on November 13, 2010, residents on Main Street, Castleisland, were awoken to the commotion of an excavation machine tearing a hole in the bank wall.
The two were in command of a digger that had ripped the cash machine from the wall and were attempting to load it on to a pickup truck.
But the dimensions of the shovel on the digger were not the same as those in a previous dummy run carried out a week earlier.
The pair failed to get the ATM machine loaded onto a blue pickup truck and subsequently abandoned and fled the scene with gardai giving chase.
Judge Moran told the court that the pair fled in the direction of Listowel and attempted to ram the garda car that gave chase.
Fleeing again, the truck came to a halt after crashing in a farmyard and the pair alighted the vehicle and left on foot, with the gardai giving chase.
Both men were eventually apprehended after a struggle with gardai that involved pepperspray and the use of garda batons.
Damage was outlined at the destruction of the excavator costing €100,000, the criminal damage of the wall at the AIB bank estimated at €150,000, and the contents of the ATM at €234,000, which was recovered.
Judge Carroll Moran said that the robbery was part of a sophisticated plan organised by four men but that the accused pair were not involved in the planning aspects are were only foot soldiers, promised a small portion of the proceeds.
He said that the two acted naively due to the financial difficulties they were under, that they did not fit a criminal profile and were remorseful.
The matter for both was further complicated due to the fact they were from Northern Ireland, something that posed more difficulties for them, their families and friends.
It was added that the large sum of money involved and the seriousness of the charges before the court were aggravating factors, while Judge Carroll Moran said their attempts to flee and ram a garda car while resisting arrest, didn’t help their cause.
However, given the mitigating factors and their early pleas, he said  both men were entitled to a discount on the 10 year maximum penalty that could have been imposed.
Murney and Wilson were both sentenced to six years in prison and a remand was made to Limerick Prison with a request for the two to be moved to a prison nearer the north granted.