Three brothers who stole almost €800,000 were today remanded in custody at the Special Criminal Court ahead of sentencing.
The three have all pleaded guilty to using stolen diggers, trailers and jeeps to rip ATMs out of the walls of premises in Cavan, Meath and Monaghan between 2018 and 2019.
The gang was foiled in August 2019 when specialist gardaí pounced on the attempted theft of an ATM in Virginia, Co Cavan, by ramming a stolen jeep the gang were using.
Today, Stephen, Gerard and Ciaran Duffy were present in the three-judge court for their sentence hearing.
The three are among five men charged before the non-jury court in relation to a garda investigation into the theft of an ATM in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, in April 2019 and the attempted theft of an ATM in Virginia, Co Cavan, in August 2019.
Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, told the court gardaí estimated the total amount stolen over the five successful ATM thefts was €790,000.
Detective Garda Vincent O'Boyle said the gang stole ATMs from Ballybay and Castleblayney in Co Monaghan, Kingscourt in Co Cavan, and two ATMs on the same night in Kells, Co Meath, between December 16, 2018, and April 19, 2019, before the attempt at Virginia on August 14, 2019.
Regarding the Virginia attempt, Det Gda O'Boyle told Ms Murphy that at around 2.15am a 14-tonne digger was stolen from the site of a fire station which was then under construction.
The digger immediately travelled in convoy with a stolen Toyota Landcruiser for about 800 metres towards the ATM, which was housed in the wall of the Riverfront Hotel on Virginia's main street.
Det Gda O'Boyle said when the bucket of the excavator was metres from the ATM, a garda Range Rover rammed a stolen Toyota Landcruiser and three culprits fled the scene with gardaí in pursuit on foot.
Gerard Duffy was caught and arrested in a nearby field while Ciaran Duffy and another man, who is before the court, evaded capture.
Ciaran Duffy was later arrested in the afternoon of August 14, when he was discovered hiding in the toilets of the Riverfront.
Det Gda O'Boyle said a phone found on Ciaran Duffy matched the number of a phone used to contact the owner of the digger, which was for sale, regarding test drives two days before the botched theft.
He said gardaí had also put the yard in Tullypole under surveillance and that two bags containing €298,900 were recovered along with a money-counting machine.
When Gerard Duffy was arrested, he commented to a garda at Carrickmacross Garda Station "do you think I'm f****d?" and "it wasn't me with the bucket".
Ms Murphy said when Gerard Duffy was interviewed he claimed he owed €10,000 and had to do "a job" after having a row in a pub or he would be shot.
Gardaí watching the yard on August 20, 2019, stopped a Toyota Avensis at the scene.
The Avensis was carrying Stephen and Ciaran Duffy and officers seized a combined €103,930 from the footwell and boot of the car.
Gardaí also searched the home of Stephen Duffy and found €15,000 stashed in a ride-along lawnmower.
Ms Murphy said Forensic Science Ireland investigations found fibres from Ciaran Duffy's clothing in the cab of the digger at the scene in Virginia.
Det Gda O'Boyle said Ciaran Duffy has no previous convictions but Gerard Duffy had eight, all of which were dealt with at District Court level.
He said Stephen Duffy had 11 previous convictions that included trespassing, handling and possessing stolen property, and criminal damage.
Barrister for Gerard Duffy, Hugh Harnett SC, said his client, a builder, was "hard-working throughout his life" and in a steady relationship.
Mr Hartnett said his client had met all of his bail conditions and had made admissions in the case in interview.
He said Gerard Duffy was apologetic for what he had done and that he had entered an early guilty plea.
Mr Hartnett said character references from Gerard Duffy's girlfriend, employers and others were before the court.
Mr Hartnett asked the court to show his client "some light at the end of the tunnel" and described Gerard Duffy as a "settled and stable person" who hoped to return to work.
Bernard Condon SC, for Stephen Duffy, said his client was a passenger in the rear of the Avensis which was stopped at Tullypole.
Mr Condon put it to Det Gda O'Boyle that another person could have possibly stowed the €15,000 in the lawnmower, to which the witness agreed. Mr Condon said Stephen Duffy's involvement was "limited" and that, "significantly", he had entered a guilty plea.
The barrister said his client had two children with his partner, had a strong employment history and had written a letter of apology knowing his actions will "change his life forever".
Patrick Gageby SC said that Ciaran Duffy had "significant" work and character references before the court and that he expressed remorse. Mr Gageby said his client was a "very different picture" outside of the court and was a "good friend, neighbour and colleague of good standing in the community".
Mr Gageby said Ciaran Duffy apologised to his family, friends, the community and neighbours for disappointing them.
Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Cormac Dunne adjourned all matters to March 4 to pass sentence and remanded the three brothers in custody.