Leader of gang that killed Adrian Donohoe suspected in the latest Border bank robbery
Stolen digger used to take €70,000 as ATM ripped from bank's wall
The leader of the gang involved in the murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe is being investigated for a €70,000 ATM robbery.
Around €50,000 worth of damage was caused when a cash machine was torn from the wall of an AIB Bank with a stolen digger shortly after 3am on Tuesday morning in Co Monaghan.
CCTV shows a tractor and trailer carrying the digger arriving on Main Street in Castleblayney.
It was the eighth ATM robbery in 2019, with gardaí believing a number of different cross-Border gangs have been involved in the heists.
However, a senior source revealed last night detectives were now focusing on the leader of a south Armagh/north Louth gang - a chief suspect in the Gda Donohoe murder but who has never been arrested in relation to the crime.
"He is being looked at very much in relation to the Co Monaghan crime but his crew are suspected of at least one of the other ATM heists that have happened across the Border, but in all probability a few more as well," the source revealed.
"Obviously this is a very dangerous criminal gang who were involved in the murder of a garda and they also have close links to dissident Republicans - they have been on a cross-Border crimewave for many years at this stage," the source added.
The audacious gang used a tractor and trailer to block the road from the nearby local Garda station, located just 500 yards away, while carrying out the crime which took less than four minutes.
Local Garda units are understood to have responded to the raid within minutes but the criminals had already fled the scene.
Gardaí were alerted to the cash machine theft about 3am and came across a John Deere tractor and a trailer blocking York Street.
When officers arrived at the bank, the ATM had already been ripped from the building and the digger's engine was still running.
Gardaí said a dark-coloured 4x4 vehicle, with the cash machine on a trailer, travelled in the direction of Co Armagh but there have been no arrests made yet in the case, which is also being investigated by the PSNI.
So far, one man has been charged with the murder of Detective Garda Donohoe and is due to face trial later this year.
But despite the Garda attention on him, the ATM robbery gang leader, who has not been arrested, is still involved in armed robberies and thefts on both sides of the Border.
"He is regularly stopped and searched but he cannot be arrested unless he is caught committing an offence.
"It is very frustrating but that is the reality of the situation," a source said.
"Investigators are in no doubt that this individual was present at the scene on the night of the murder," the source added.
Meanwhile, no one was injured in Tuesday morning's crime.
There have been 11 ATM robberies on both sides of the Border in less than 12 months - seven of them in the North and four in the south.
Last Monday, a digger was used to remove an ATM from the wall of a shop in Ahoghill, Co Antrim.
After that, a senior PSNI officer raised the possibility dissidents might be benefiting from the series of raids.
Detective Chief Inspector David Henderson said they were looking at "several gangs" being involved in the crimes.
"We have no evidence that paramilitaries are involved, but all crime in Northern Ireland usually goes back to paramilitaries, whether committed by them or whether they tax the perpetrators of the crime and take some of the criminal assets from them," he said.
Since March last year the towns hit were Keady in Co Armagh; Ballyclare in Co Antrim; Ballybay in Co Monaghan; Fintona in Co Tyrone; Moira in Co Down; Antrim town, Omagh and Dungannon in Co Tyrone; Newtownabbey in Co Antrim; Irvinestown in Co Fermanagh and then Ahoghill before Castleblayney.