Computer glitch allowed man to withdraw €13,600 from Dublin ATM

Judge dimisses case as prosecution fails to prove Ulster Bank did not consent to withdrawals

In the space of 30 minutes, Sheshi Kota, formerly of Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin made  23 withdrawals. Photograph: Alan Betson

In the space of 30 minutes, Sheshi Kota, formerly of Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin made 23 withdrawals. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

A judge has dismissed the case against a man accused of stealing money from a cash machine because he said the State had failed to prove the bank existed.

Judge Patrick McCartan also said the prosecution had failed to prove that Ulster Bank did not consent to multiple withdrawals of €13,600.

Sheshi Kota (40) withdrew the cash in June 2012, on a day when the bank was experiencing a computer systems fault.

The fault allowed customers of the bank to withdraw an unlimited amount of money without restriction without any reduction in their account balance.

In the space of 30 minutes, Mr Kota, formerly of Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin made the 23 withdrawals of cash using his Ulster Bank card.

He later told gardaí that he knew he didn’t have the money but that he kept taking the cash. He said he considered it an overdraft and denied stealing it.

Mr Kota had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to 23 counts of stealing cash, the property of “Ulster Bank Ireland Ltd” at an Ulster Bank ATM at College Green, Dublin.

Rory Staines, defending, told the court that all his client had done was put his bank card in and withdraw cash. He said the systems fault was not a result of something Mr Kota did.

Mr Staines said the bank initially treated the matter as a civil debt and were later using gardaí as a debt enforcement agency. The money was repaid by Mr Kota after the Garda became involved.

Judge McCartan directed the jury to find the accused not guilty on all counts. He said proving an offence of theft must include a technical proof of the existence of an entity capable of ownership.

There was evidence of various entities associated with Ulster Bank, but there was no documentary proof of a properly incorporated legal entity called “Ulster Bank Ireland Ltd” put before the jury, he said.

Ulster Bank was bought in 2000 by the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The trial heard that the bank investigated hundreds of cases around the systems fault and that around 30 customers were reported to gardaí.