Northern Ireland

Ulster Bank: Man jailed for stealing £11,000 from faulty ATM

Ulster Bank Image copyright PA
Image caption A prosecution lawyer told Downpatrick Crown Court that on June 22, 2012, Ulster Bank had 'experienced a computer malfunction in its system'

A recovering alcoholic has been jailed for four months for stealing £11,000 from a faulty Ulster Bank cash machine.

A judge told Peter Anthony Young, 58, of Hunter's Way, Ardglass, that he had "deliberately taken advantage'' of the major glitch in the bank's system almost four years ago.

It meant customers could withdraw funds from ATM machines without affecting their balance.

Following a check, the bank discovered the money had been withdrawn by Young.

A prosecution lawyer told Downpatrick Crown Court that on 22 June 2012, Ulster Bank had "experienced a computer malfunction in its system''.

"Following a check, Ulster Bank discovered that Young, who was one of its customers, had £11,000 withdrawn from his account on that day,'' said Ms Ivers.

The judge was told there had been 22 separate withdrawals of £500 on the day in question.

The prosecution lawyer said the bank made repeated attempts to contact Young without success before eventually reporting the incident to police as "fraudulent''.

The PSNI started an investigation and Young voluntarily attended a police station and admitted making the withdrawals, telling police he had "spent the money on drink''.

The prosecution lawyer said the accused, who was a customer of the Ulster Bank, had "made no effort to pay back the funds'' and the outstanding balance he owed now stood at £10,908.40.

A defence lawyer described it as an "unusual case'' and said that when Young was interviewed by police in September 2014 he made "frank admissions'' to his crimes.

"Reading between the lines from the court papers, it appears Mr Young was in the company of other people drinking with them that day and when he was taking money out it became apparent to him and the others that there was a fault with this machine," he told the court.

"This was always going to come home to him.

'Downward spiral'

"He is not in the least blaming others.''

The defence lawyer said that Young's life had "taken a downward spiral'' following the death of his mother in 1991 and said that by the age of 34 he was an alcoholic, homeless and "living on the streets of Belfast''.

The lawyer added that the father-of-five was now a recovering alcoholic, who was attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, was part of a church group and was also attending a rehabilitation programme.

The defence lawyer said Young could be made the subject of a community order which "would leave something hanging over his head that would remind him not to stray from the straight and narrow again''.

"I would urge the court to give him a chance to continue to improve himself,'' the lawyer added.

The judge said Young had gone to the machine on one occasion to withdraw £500 on the day in question.

"He chose to return to this machine a further 21 times to withdraw the money when he knew he did not have the funds in his account," he said.

"He knew full well what he was doing and he deliberately took advantage of the defective ATM."

The judge said Young, who is living on social security benefits, had not repaid any money he had stolen from the Ulster Bank.

"I don't believe I could deal with this case by way of a suspended sentence. The least sentence I can impose is one of four months in custody.''