Two south Armagh men were remanded into custody today (Monday) accused of involvement in a “highly sophisticated” double ATM theft.
Refusing to free 24-year-old Fergal Nolan, of Bonds Road, Silverbridge and Michael Muckian (29), of Carrive Road, also in Silverbridge, District Judge Eamon King described the incident as having pre-planning akin to a “military operation,” adding that he shares police fears over the risk of further offences, interference with the investigation and the pair not turning up for court.
Nolan and Muckian, are jointly charged with four offences allegedly committed on 4 April this year including two counts of possessing criminal property, handling a stolen VW Amarok pick up and handling property which had been stolen in the Republic of Ireland.
While Nolan appeared at Craigavon Magistrates Court via videolink form Lurgan police station, Muckian did not appear but the court heard he is displaying symptoms of Covid-19 and is currently being held in Musgrave street police station.
Giving evidence to the court, a Detective constable said she believed she could connect each man to their respective charges while a prosecuting lawyer said their bail applications were objected to.
The lawyer told the court that a number of vehicles, including a van, a Mercedes and the pickup truck, were stolen from a house in Co. Monaghan in a “creeper burglary” last Wednesday.
In the early hours of Saturday, two of those vehicles, the van and the Mercedes, were set on fire outside Dundalk Gardaí station and meanwhile, a stolen lorry was used to block the road while the pickup truck towed a low loader trailer to Main Street where the two ATM’s were stolen.
She said a number of men were seen communicating on walkie talkies but Gardaí officers arrived at the scene “within seconds” of the men leaving the scene, chasing them using police cars and a helicopter to pursue than as they crossed the border into NI.
Muckian and Nolan fled to Muckian’s home in the south Armagh area but were arrested after “armed officers forced entry.”
The lawyer revealed that while they have yet to be examined, it’s estimated there was around 240,000 Euros in the two cash machines, adding that when the pair were interviewed, the answered “no comment” to the large majority of police questions.
Turning to the objections to bail, the lawyer described the thefts as “highly sophisticated” which would clearly have involved a number of other people.
She submitted that if freed, Muckian and Nolan were likely to commit further offences in order to “recoup losses,” could abscond and could interfere with the investigation.
Acting on behalf of both men, defence counsel Michael Chambers submitted there would be stringent bail conditions put in place in order to “allay police concerns.”
He argued they were unlikely to flee to the Republic as the charges they’re likely to face there “are more serious than the handling charges,” revealing that their respective parents were willing to lodge £10,000 each as sureties.
Refusing to release them on bail however, Judge King said the offences “seems to be like a military operation” with stolen vehicles used to obstruct the Gardaí followed by a “hot pursuit across the border.”
He said he was refusing bail on all three grounds and remanding both men into custody, ordered them to appear again via videolink on April 29.