Bomb attack on Armagh ATM part of Europe-wide investigation

Man faces charges of attempted theft and causing an explosion likely to endanger life

A bomb attack on a Co Armagh cash machine forms part of a Europe-wide investigation into an alleged organised crime gang, the High Court in Belfast heard on Wednesday.

Pan-continental law enforcement agency Europol is organising meetings involving EU member states examining similar explosive raids on ATMs, prosecutors disclosed.

New details emerged as bail was refused to one of the men accused of blowing up the machine outside a Costcutters shop in Hamiltonsbawn last June.

Gratian-Ioan Pinter, a 38-year-old Romanian national with an address at Brega Hamlet Lane in Balbriggan, Co Dublin, faces charges of attempted theft, causing an explosion likely to endanger life, and two counts of criminal damage.


Gas is believed to have been used in the blast, which resulted in no money being stolen but up to £45,000 (€62,000) worth of cash and equipment being destroyed.

Pinter was later arrested and is allegedly linked by evidence from the gang’s suspected getaway car. Detectives also believe a similar method was used during a previous ATM raid in Carrickmore where a large amount of money was stolen.

In court prosecution counsel claimed Pinter came to Northern Ireland in breach of bail conditions imposed in Spain for similar alleged offences. Conor Maguire revealed: "There are discussions ongoing between a number of EU member states in relation to an organised criminal gang who have been active across Europe.

“Co-ordinated meetings are taking place at Europol in relation to the modus operandi being utilised by this group and who are suspected of involvement in these offences in Northern Ireland.”

Discussions involve potentially setting up a joint investigation team or a mutual legal assistance treaty agreement for the exchange of evidence between jurisdictions, the court heard.

Mr Maguire added: “Police also have evidence that the accused has no links to Northern Ireland, he flew in just prior to this incident and was to fly out immediately after.”

Jonathan Browne, defending, claimed Pinter had not been barred from leaving Spain as long as he returned to sign bail. He said his client had travelled to Dublin for the birthday of his friend and co-accused — also a Romanian national.

But rejecting submissions that Pinter should be released due to delays in the case, Mr Justice Treacy ruled that he must remain in custody.

The judge said: “I’m not satisfied against the complex background that the delay is of the magnitude to require the release of the applicant on bail.”