A forty-two-year-old has appeared in court charged with 35 offences relating to multiple burglaries and attempted burglaries of ATMs across Northern Ireland – including two in Co Armagh and one in Dungannon – over a four week period earlier this year in which a total of £261,320 was stolen.
Christian Nicola with an address in County Wexford was arrested in Hull by detectives from the PSNI Organised Crime Branch on November 29.
He was transported back to Northern Ireland and taken to custody for questioning on suspicion of incidents in Articlave, Dungannon, Portadown, Poyntzpass, Irvinestown, Derrylin, Coleraine, Ballymena and Dungiven.
With a similar pattern throughout the alleged spate of offending, in order of occurrence on February 6 and 7, Nicola is charged with entering premises in Dungiven as a trespasser and stealing £43,640, damaging lights and sensors and a satellite cable and an ATM bunker.
This was followed on February 15 by entering a shop in Articlave and stealing £71,250 as well as damaging lights and a satellite cable.
On February 24, Nicola is accused of entering a shop in Dungannon as a trespasser and stealing £93, 850 cash as well as damaging an ATM machine, wire fencing and satellite cabling.
The next alleged incident occurred on March 3 when the accused is charged with entering a Portadown filling station and stealing £52,300, and in the process damaging an ATM machine, wire fencing as well as telephone and satellite cabling.
On March 9, Nicola is charged with entering a filling station in Irvinestown with intent to steal, damaged lights, fencing, satellite cabling and an ATM machine and bunker.
The following day, on March 10, Nicola allegedly entered a shop in Poyntzpass as a trespasser and stole £280 cash, damaged an ATM machine, lights, fending and satellite cabling.
Matters moved to March 14 when he is charged with entering a shop in Derrylin with intent to steal, damaging an ATM and bunker, fencing, satellite and telephone cabling as well as street lighting belonging to the Department of Infrastructure.
Finally, on March 29, Nicola is accused of attempting to enter shops in Coleraine and Cushendall with intent to steal and damaging a fuel gauge cable at a service station in Ballymena.
After the charges were read a detective constable told Dungannon Magistrates’ Court all matters could be connected.
Defence counsel Patrick Taggart advised there would be no application for bail at this stage after which District Judge Michael Ranaghan remanded Nicola in custody to appear by video-link later this month.
At the time of detection Detective Chief Inspector Ciara Mullan said: “We hope this arrest shows that we are 100% committed to putting a stop to this type of crime.”