Former GAA footballer jailed for 10 years for ATM raids

Former GAA footballer jailed for 10 years for ATM raids

A County Armagh man has been ordered to serve 10 years in jail for a series of robberies in which ATMs were ripped from walls in the Republic of Ireland.

Daniel O’Callaghan, from Monog Road in Crossmaglen, had denied 16 charges but was found guilty at Ireland’s Special Criminal Court in Dublin last month.

He is the fifth member of an organised crime gang to be jailed over the ATM raids that took place in 2018 and 2019.

The judge said he played a central role as a planner and active gang member.

The gang stole hundreds of thousands of euros in six ATM robberies across counties Meath, Cavan and Monaghan until they were caught “red-handed” by gardaí.

Officers intercepted the gang in County Cavan in the early hours of 14 August 2019, as they attempted to pull a cash machine from the wall of a restaurant in Main Street, Virginia.

When their stolen vehicle was rammed by gardaí, gang members tried to flee by jumping over a wall and running into a nearby field.

Two of them were arrested but O’Callaghan, an ex-Gaelic footballer, escaped.

However, the former player, who won three All-Ireland club championships with Crossmaglen Rangers, was recognised at the scene by two officers from different units.

O’Callaghan’s DNA was also later found in a sauna inside a nearby shed, where it is believed he hid as his accomplices were arrested.

Passing sentence on Monday March 7, the judge said O’Callaghan had taken part in an “audacious” operation on behalf of a “well-oiled” criminal organisation.

She said he had contested the charges against him, despite being caught “red-handed” at the scene of the attempted raid in Virginia, and therefore did not get the benefit of a guilty plea.

However, she said the court would take into consideration that O’Callaghan had not contested certain issues during his trial, meaning that a number of witnesses were not required to give evidence.

She also considered his involvement in his family and his local community to be a mitigating factor.

She handed down an 11-year sentence, ordering him to spend the first 10 years in jail, with the final year suspended due to the mitigating factors.

O’Callaghan was the only member of the gang who did not admit his involvement in the ATM raids and he has received the longest prison sentence.

Last week, County Monaghan brothers Ciaran and Gerard Duffy were each jailed for seven years and nine months and their older brother Stephen was jailed for four years.

Their co-accused, Niall Finnegan from Cherry Grove, Cullyhanna, County Armagh, is already serving three years in jail for his part in the thefts.