Two plead guilty to attempted theft of Virginia ATM

It's the latest development in the major Garda investigation.

Two Monaghan brothers admitted to their involvement with a cross-border gang that used excavators to carry off ATMs by entering guilty pleas to a number of charges at the Special Criminal Court yesterday.

The pair, along with their older brother, are among a number of men who have been charged before the non-jury court in relation to a garda investigation into the theft of an ATM in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, in April 2019 and the attempted theft of an ATM in Virginia, Co Cavan, in August 2019.

Yesterday, Gerard Duffy (30) of Greagh, Loughnamore, Co Monaghan, pleaded guilty at the three-judge court to the attempted theft of an ATM at the Riverfront Bar & Restaurant, Main Street, Virginia, Co Cavan, on August 14, 2019.

Gerard Duffy answered "guilty" when the registrar read out the charge of a serious offence, to wit: the attempted theft of the ATM and its contents for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organisation, contrary to Section 73 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006.

Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, said another charge could be taken into account on a "full facts" basis.

Duffy was then remanded on continuing bail until his sentence hearing on February 1, 2020, by presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns.

Also today at a separate sitting of the court, his brother, Ciaran Duffy (27) of the same address, pleaded guilty at the court to three offences connected to the same investigation. Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding in that court, set a date of February 1 next for a sentencing hearing for Duffy, who remains on bail.

Duffy pleaded guilty to participating in criminal activities while in a Toyota Avensis at Tullypole, Moynalty, Co Meath on August 20, 2019 by participating in the movement of cash on behalf of a criminal organisation.

He pleaded guilty to attempting to commit an offence under the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud) Act by attempting to steal the ATM and its contents at the Riverfront Bar & Restaurant.

Duffy also pleaded guilty to participating in or contributing to the possession of cash at Tullypole, Moynalty on 14 August 2019, intending to facilitate the commission of an offence by a criminal organisation.

Earlier this month, eldest brother Stephen Duffy (35) of Tullynahinera, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, pleaded guilty to possessing cash at The Yard, Tullypole, Moynalty, Co Meath, on August 20, 2019.

Stephen Duffy was charged with a serious offence, to wit: the possession of cash for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with, a criminal organisation, contrary to Section 73 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006.

Last month, Niall Finnegan (39) was jailed for four-and-a-half years with the final 18 months suspended for possessing cash, which was the proceeds of the ATM thefts carried out by the gang.

Finnegan of Cherry Grove, Cullyhanna, Co Armagh, pleaded guilty in July at the court to possessing or handling €103,000 at Tullypole in August 2019.

In sentencing Finnegan, Mr Justice Tony Hunt said Detective Sergeant Mark Looby had given evidence to the court regarding an investigation into six ATM thefts in Cavan and Monaghan between September 2018 and August 2019. The judge said these ATM thefts had been carried out by what gardaí believed to be a cross-border gang based in east Monaghan and south Armagh.

Det Sgt Looby said the gang had used excavators to rip the ATMs from their locations and they had caused ‘significant amounts of criminal damage’ during six raids and attempted raids in the Border region.

He also said the gang had stolen €790,000 before arrests were made two years ago by undercover detectives monitoring the activities of suspects.