A former All-Ireland club football champion has pleaded not guilty to having more than €400,000 in cash stolen from an ATM by a criminal gang in 2019.
Aniel O’Callaghan (31), who plays for Crossmaglen Rangers and has an address in Monog Road, Crossmaglen, Armagh, is tried in a three-judge, non-jury Special Criminal Court. He denies all 17 charges relating to an ATM theft and attempted ATM theft, which prosecutors say were foiled by Gardai.
The Fiona Murphy SC begins trial for prosecutors today. She alleged that Mr O’Callaghan was involved in a criminal gang that used a certain “modus operandi” to steal four ATMs by pulling them off walls in the Meath and Cavan area in December 2018 and in March and April 2019. She said that Gardai intercepted another attempt in August 2019 to use a digger to pull ATMs from a riverfront bar and restaurant in Cavan, on Main Street, Virginia.
She said prosecutors could not link Mr. O’Callaghan to the three burglaries, but would bring the court’s attention to the same methods used on each occasion.
Ms Murphy said Gardy was watching a series of ATM thefts investigate in the early hours of August 14, 2019, when an excavator pulling a trailer with a stolen Toyota Landcruiser traveled to Virginia in convoy. When Gardai intervened, the digger was only a few meters away from the ATM. Gardai, the lawyer said, recognized Mr. O’Callaghan as coming from the driver’s side of the Landcruiser and running to a nearby field. Two other accused ran towards the same area.
Gardai found a man after a short search and arrested him. The next afternoon, around 2 a.m., a Gardena searching through the dense underground behind a store in Virginia saw a man running down the street and into a riverfront bar. The man was arrested and a ‘burner phone’ was found in his possession. Used to contact the owner of the excavator two days ago. That phone conversation requested a test drive, while also asked for instructions on how to operate the excavator.
Meanwhile, the owner of a nearby compound told Gardai that an outhouse on his land had been tampered with. When forensic examiners conducted outhouse DNA tests, they found the DNA matched that of Mr O’Callaghan, the lawyer said.
Ms Murphy said the prosecution’s case is that Mr O’Callaghan was involved in “all aspects of the attempted burglary in Virginia”. She said there are similarities between the methods used in Virginia and other burglaries. She said debris from an ATM stolen in Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan in April 2019 was found in a trailer being pulled by a Landcruiser that prosecutors allege was run by Mr. O’Callaghan in Virginia.
On the same day that the alleged ATM theft was attempted, Gardai executed a search warrant for a compound in Tulipole, Moynalty, Ko Meath, where he found two plastic bags containing a total of €298,900. Six days later, Gardai saw a suspected gang member returning to Tulipole, where he was seen digging one path up.
He was arrested and whenI Searching the area where they saw the man digging, they found a bag containing €22,000. On the same date, Gardai received another €103,930.
The lawyer said the prosecution would link Mr. O’Callaghan to Tullipole’s property and show that the money found there came from thefts committed by the accused.
Mr. O’Callaghan is charged with attempted ATM theft on August 14, 2019 at the Riverfront Hotel, Virginia, Co Cavan, on the instructions of, or in association with, a criminal organization.
He has been accused of possessing a petrol with the intention of further use, Or allow someone else to use it to damage a stolen Toyota Landcruiser in Virginia with false plates, that too on Aug. 14. He has been charged with possession of a stolen Toyota Landcruiser, possession of a 14-ton stolen excavator and that he appropriated the excavator without the consent of his owner in Virginia on the same date.
He has been charged with possession of a bolt-cutter with intent to steal a 14-ton excavator, as well as attempted dishonest appropriation of ATMs at the Riverfront in Virginia, and possession of a stolen flatbed trailer.
Mr. O’Callaghan has also been charged with criminal damage and theft of an ATM at Monaghan on Main Street, Castleblaney, on April 3, 2019, both offenses allegedly committed on the direction of, or in association with, for-profit are. a criminal organization.
He has been charged with handling or possessing €298,900, €103,930 and €22,000, arising from the Garda searches at Meath’s compound in Tulipole, Moynalti, on August 14 and 20, 2019. He is also accused of facilitating the activities of a criminal organization.
He has denied all charges and continues his trial before Ms. Justice Tara Burns, chaired by Justice Sarah Berkeley and Justice Michael Walsh.