Northern Ireland

Cash machine thefts: Man charged in investigation

Dungannon Magistrates' Court

A 29-year-old man has appeared in court charged with possession of criminal property, handling stolen goods, and theft.

He is one of two men arrested on Thursday by detectives investigating the thefts of cash machines.

The thefts happened in Fermanagh and Tyrone between December 2018 and March 2019.

The police carried out five searches in the Omagh area on Thursday and recovered a digger worth £60,000.

It had been stolen in Dungannon last Friday.

Matthew Joseph McLean from Glenpark Road in Gortin appeared at Dungannon Magistrates' Court.

He faces four charges: concealing criminal property, possessing criminal property, handling stolen goods namely a low loader, and theft of an Ifor Williams trailer valued at £2,000.

Thefts

A detective constable told the court that a stolen digger, trailer and 40-foot low loader were found during the search of a shed in Beragh, Co Tyrone.

She said police believe the trailer, which had been stolen in February, had been used in the thefts of cash machines in Killyclogher and Irvinestown.

The detective said the owner of the shed had made statements that he had leased the shed to the defendant in April 2019.

She added that during police interview Mr McLean had given "no comment" responses to all questions.

A defence solicitor said the only evidence linking his client to the shed was the statements of the shed owner.

He said there was no contract or proof of payments of rent.

'Serious matters'

He said CCTV of the thefts was shown during the interview and "there is no proof to illustrate the trailer found in the shed was the one used".

The detective said inquiries were ongoing but "they both look like the same trailer".

The defence solicitor also said his client had been arrested on suspicion of 10 offences but has been released on police bail in relation to all matters directly linked to the thefts of cash machines.

The district judge refused an application for bail saying "these are very serious matters".

Mr McLean was remanded in custody to appear in court again on 4 June.

A 31-year-old man arrested on Thursday has been released on police bail.