Northern Ireland news

Footprints in the snow led police to would-be ATM thieves, court told

A snow storm resulted in two alleged would-be thieves appearing in court accused of trying to steal cash from an ATM.

A snow storm resulted in two alleged would-be thieves appearing in court accused of trying to steal cash from an ATM.

Ballymena Magistrates Court heard that after an ATM alarm alerted police to an incident on Kells Main Street at about 2am on Friday, officers tracked the movements of a jeep allegedly used by two men who tried to use cutting equipment and blow torches to break into the machine.

The court heard that while a pursuit “was not possible because of the snow and weather conditions,” it was the snow which lead police to a house on the Fernisky Road.

While the jeep allegedly used in the incident was found crashed just outside Parkgate, officers spotted footprints walking away from the vehicle so “police followed these prints for several hours, through fields, hedges and over barbed wire fences,” said a detective.

Three men were inside the house, the defendants Joseph Tomlinson (28) and Jordan Stewart (24) as well as Stewart’s father and police also noted a pile of wet clothes.

The detective told the court Mr Stewart snr said the wet clothes “did not belong to him” and that his son and another man had come in during the night “saying they had wrecked a car” while the defendants Tomlinson and Stewart claimed they had been out walking the dog for approximately ten minutes.

“There was a dog in the property however this dog was dry and not wet as would be expected if walking in snow,” said the officer.

She said the ATM building at SuperValu in Kells was examined and there was “scorch damage to the door as if someone had used a blowtorch type item” to try to gain entry.

When they crashed vehicle was searched, officers uncovered cutting equipment, a blow torch and gas canister in the boot.

Arrested and interviewed both Stewart, from Wakehurst Court in Ballymena and Tomlinson, from Ballysillan Avenue in Belfast, denied involvement but refused to answer the majority of police questions.

Appearing separately by videolink from police custody, both men were charged with attempting to steal the contents of the ATM and burglary of the ATM building on March 10.

Defence barristers Gavyn Cairns and Eoghan Devlin argued that with bail addresses away from Kells and with significant delays in obtaining any forensic evidence, the pair could be freed on bail with conditions.

Adjourning the case to April 4, the Judge freed them on £500 bail with a surety in the same amount with conditions that they observe a curfew, are barred from contacting each other or Stewart’s father and from entering Kells.

Northern Ireland news