State concludes case against ex-GAA star accused of being part of cross-Border ATM gang

Daniel O’Callaghan’s barrister will apply for direction from judges to have charges dismissed

 Daniel O’Callaghan (31) of  Monog Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh pictured arriving to the Special Criminal Court. Photograph:  Collins Courts

Daniel O’Callaghan (31) of Monog Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh pictured arriving to the Special Criminal Court. Photograph: Collins Courts

 

The State has concluded its case against a former Armagh GAA club star accused of being part of a destructive cross-Border gang involved in the theft and attempted theft of two ATMs.

On Thursday at the three-judge Special Criminal Court prosecution counsel Fiona Murphy SC said the case against former Crossmaglen GAA all-Ireland winner Daniel O’Callaghan had been concluded.

Mr O’Callaghan (31) of Monog Road, Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, has been charged with alleged offences under Section 72 and 73 of the Criminal Justice Act.

He is charged with the attempted theft of the ATM at the Riverfront Hotel, Main Street, Virginia, Co Cavan, on August 14th, 2019, for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal organisation.

Mr O’Callaghan is also charged with the criminal damage and the theft of an ATM on Main Street, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, on April 3rd, 2019, both offences allegedly being for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association with a criminal organisation.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges against him.

After the conclusion of the prosecution case on Thursday, defence barrister Vincent Heneghan SC told presiding judge Ms Justice Tara Burns that he will be applying for a direction from the three judges on Friday to have the charges dismissed.

Mr Heneghan said that the defence would not be calling on Mr O’Callaghan to give evidence.

Opening the trial for the prosecution, Ms Murphy alleged that Mr O’Callaghan was involved with a criminal gang who used a certain “modus operandi” to steal four ATMs by pulling them out of walls in December 2018 and April 2019 in Meath and Cavan and that gardaí prevented the Virginia attempt.

Ms Murphy said gardaí investigating the series of ATM thefts were watching in the early hours of August 14th, 2019, when a digger travelled to Virginia in convoy with a stolen Toyota Landcruiser pulling a trailer. The digger was just metres from the ATM when gardaí intervened.

Meanwhile, the owner of a nearby premises told gardaí that an outhouse on his land had been interfered with. When forensic examiners carried out DNA testing of the outhouse, they discovered DNA matching that of Mr O’Callaghan, counsel said.

Ms Murphy said the prosecution’s case is that Mr O’Callaghan was involved in “all aspects of the attempted theft at Virginia”. She said there were similarities in the methods used at Virginia and the other thefts and that rubble from an ATM stolen at Castleblayney, Co Monaghan in April 2019 was found in the trailer being pulled by the Landcruiser that the prosecution alleges was driven by Mr O’Callaghan in Virginia.

On the same day as the alleged attempted ATM theft, gardaí executed a search warrant for a premises at Tullypole, Moynalty, Co Meath where they found two plastic bags containing a total of €298,900.

Ms Murphy said the prosecution would link Mr O’Callaghan to the property at Tullypole and will show that the money found there came from thefts carried out by the accused.

The court has also been played CCTV of ATM thefts and attempted thefts at Ballybay and Castleblayney, Co Monaghan; Kells, Co Meath, and Kingscourt and Virginia in Co Cavan, which Detective Superintendent James O’Leary described as have a “degree of planning” associated with an organised crime group.

Mr O’Callaghan is also accused of two charges of participating or contributing to the possession of cash totalling €125,930 intending to facilitate the commission by a criminal organisation or any of its members of a serious offence at Tullypole, Moynalty, Co Meath, on August 14th and 20th of last year.

He is further accused of possessing €298,000 at the same location on August 14, 2019, along with a charge of possessing a petrol can intending to use it or cause or permit another to damage stolen property; a Toyota Landcruiser with false plates in Virginia, also on August 14th.

In addition, he is charged with possessing a stolen Toyota Landcruiser, possession of a stolen 14-tonne digger and that he appropriated the digger without the consent of its owner in Virginia on the same date and location.

Finally, he is charged with being in possession of bolt-cutters with the intent of stealing a 14-tonne digger, with the attempted dishonest appropriation of the ATM at the Riverfront in Virginia and with being in possession of a stolen flatbed trailer all on August 14th of last year.

The trial continues before Ms Justice Burns, sitting with Judge Sarah Berkeley and Judge Michael Walsh.