Man avoids jail over attempted ATM theft at Co Down forecourt
A County Antrim man has avoided jail over his role in the attempted theft of a cash machine from a petrol station in Ballynahinch, County Down.
The incident happened on the Belfast Road in November 2019.
Adrian Boyd, 29, of Glenville Mews, Newtownabbey, was handed a three-year prison sentence suspended for three years.
He pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting burglary and criminal damage to Carlisles’ petrol station.
Prosecutor Laura Ivers told Downpatrick Crown Court, sitting in Belfast, that at 05:00 GMT on Monday 18 November 2019, two men stole a trailer from Ballynahinch before hitching it on to a silver Volkswagen Passat car and driving it towards the town centre.
About 10 minutes later, the same car was caught on CCTV leaving a quarry with a 20-tonne stolen digger.
“The vehicles then travelled 200 yards to Carlisles’ fresh foods filling station on the Belfast Road,” Ms Ivers told Judge Geoffrey Miller KC.
“The digger was used to ram the cash machine on the forecourt.
“After 30 attempts to break free the cash machine, the offenders then used the digger to open the main doors to the shop.
“Two males entered the premises and opened a cigarette cabinet and tills.
“They took scratch cards to the value of £1,829, tobacco worth £3,777.45 and £975 in cash.”
The court heard that as the vehicles fled the scene, the digger crashed into the forecourt canopy, which collapsed and struck a passing vehicle.
The digger was abandoned at a quarry and the Passat was later reported to be on fire in the Queen’s Park area of Saintfield.
Ms Ivers told the court, that at 11:00, Boyd was observed in the passenger seat of a taxi by police officers who were conducting traffic duties at the Saintfield/Ballynahinch Road junction.
“Police made observations about his appearance and decided to search him and found 38 scratch cards on his person,” said the prosecutor.
Boyd was arrested and remained silent throughout his police interviews.
Detectives discovered the scratch cards had been issued to Carlisles’.
The court heard “extensive damage” was caused to the filling station totalling £821,295 and the loss to the business was £64,811.
Ms Ivers said Boyd was identified as the person who bought the Passat car from messages on his Facebook page.
Defence counsel Greg Berry KC said it was accepted that Boyd was not present at the time of the filling station burglary and only provided the car for the gang.
Judge Millar said Boyd was the only person to date who has been prosecuted over the burglary.
“This was a very serious burglary which is apparent from the depositions and photographs and the loss and damage caused in this criminal enterprise was huge,” the judge said.
“It was a carefully planned operation which the owner of the petrol station could do little to guard against.
“The Passat was bought as a getaway vehicle which the defendant says was his role.
“The fact that 38 scratch cards were found on his person just a matter of hours after the ram raid shows that he was closely involved in the operation.”
Judge Millar said Boyd had 33 previous convictions on his criminal record including six for burglary and two criminal damage offences.