PSNI 'has responsibility' over County Fermanagh ATM theft
The PSNI has a responsibility to bring to justice those responsible for stealing more than £60,000 from a cash machine almost a year ago, a former Ulster Unionist leader has said.
The case against six people in connection with the robbery collapsed earlier this year.
The robbery happened in August 2018 at a shop in Trory, County Fermanagh.
Police had said street lights were turned off and telephone lines cut to prevent alarms being triggered.
Tom Elliott, who was an MLA, MP and former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said people in the village were shocked by the incident.
"It was a very professionally-operated system that they had, these people knew what they were doing.
"It was obviously carefully planned and laid out and carefully executed."
Two days after the robbery, five men and a woman appeared in court. They all lived at the same address in Crossgar, County Down.
A police officer told the court she believed the defendants were part of an organised crime gang responsible for up to 40 other similar robberies.
The special court sitting in Omagh used the services of a Romanian interpreter.
Five of the suspects were remanded in custody.
But, when prosecutors at the PPS eventually examined the full file of evidence from the PSNI, they concluded that it was "insufficient to provide a reasonable prospect of conviction".
When the case came before a court again in January this year, all the charges were withdrawn.
BBC News understands that the evidence which the PPS examined included:
- Forensic evidence, including DNA samples
- CCTV images
- Mobile phone records
It is understood none of this evidence sufficiently linked any of the six accused to the incident.
BBC News NI also understands there was insufficient evidence to prove a sum of cash seized by the police - more than £26,000 - had a criminal origin.
'Inappropriate to comment'
Mr Elliott said the local community is frustrated no one has been brought to justice for the crime.
"I suppose that's a big issue to the people of Fermanagh and the general area, they're saying 'look, clearly after a year, surely if there was going to be somebody caught, they would have been got in the early days. Surely, if we were going to get an apprehension of these people, it would have been done by now'.
"There are still people out there who carried out the robbery. I think there's a responsibility on all of us to try and help bring those to justice, but especially on the police."
BBC News NI asked the PSNI for an update on their investigation into the robbery.
In a statement, the police said investigations into the incident are "ongoing".
"Police continue to appeal for anyone with information that could help our investigation to please get in touch. As this is an ongoing investigation it would be inappropriate to comment further at this time."