NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Man provided ATM explosions gang with getaway car

Peter O'Brien

A violent criminal has been convicted of helping a gang who stole more than £130,000 from ATMs in Scotland by blowing them up.

Peter O'Brien, 34, let the Merseyside thieves stay at his flat in Aberdeen while they hatched plans to blow up cash machines in the north east.

Eleven thefts and attempted thefts were reported across the north-east in 2013.

O'Brien, who will be sentenced in August, also provided the men with one of their getaway vehicles.

Crowbars were used to attack the machines before a hose was inserted, piping in a mixture of oxygen and acetylene gas.

This was then ignited, causing an explosion so they could get access to the money boxes inside the unit.

O'Brien was due to go on trial facing 24 charges at the High Court in Aberdeen instead but was acquitted of his role in the majority of the crimes after he admitted three of the offences.

'Threatened'

Advocate depute Keith O'Mahony said he admitted two of the charges on the basis that he was "threatened" by the gang and played no part in the actual crimes.

However, he provided the men with one of their get away vehicles and also let them stay in his flat where the two attempted theft offences were planned and executed.

The court heard that one of the offences took place at a Clydesdale Bank in Stonehaven in the early hours 28 October 2013.

Mr O'Mahony said a witness was awoken by a noise from the street and saw the gang preparing to blow up the ATM.

"The males were in possession of what appeared to be a gas cylinder. They were attempting to feed pipes connected to this cylinder in to the front of the ATM," he said.

The men drove off when they realised they were being watched but later targeted a Bank of Scotland ATM in Inverurie.

As they tried to hide one of their cars on waste ground near Methlick they were spotted acting suspiciously and the police were contacted.

The car was examined and a bottle of acetylene gas, piping, a crow bar and sledge hammer were recovered from the vehicle.

O'Brien was apprehended a few days later near his Aberdeen home, walking towards a second car which contained wires, gloves, rolls of tape, fuses, a torch and fake registration plates.

O'Brien also admitted failing to appear for a previous hearing. He will be sentenced on 10 August.

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