‘Tiger kidnapping’ engineer jailed for £38,000 theft

The �38,000 was stolen from a Northern Bank ATM in north Belfast in 2011
The �38,000 was stolen from a Northern Bank ATM in north Belfast in 2011

A former G4S engineer accused of faking his own ‘tiger kidnapping’ was handed a 12-month prison sentence yesterday for stealing £38,000 from an ATM in north Belfast.

Telling John Patterson that he would spend six months of the sentence behind bars, Judge Gordon Kerr QC described the offence as a “breach of trust case” by an employee on his G4s employers.

Patterson, 52, of Carwood Way, Newtownabbey, Co Antrim was recently found guilty by a jury at Belfast Crown Court of one count of burglary.

The charge related to the theft of £38,000 in £20 notes from an ATM bunker at Cavehill Spar, Cavehill Road in north Belfast on December 12, 2011.

The jury found him not guilty of three further offences of converting criminal property.

Patterson admitted the offences but maintained throughout his trial that he was acting under duress on the orders of masked gunmen.

He further admitted lodging some £12,000 of the cash to bolster his own bank and building society accounts and to making a cash down payment on a new caravan.

But he claimed in his evidence in chief that the money come from his own “emergency kitty” he had built up from doing DIY work and which he kept in an old aftershave box stashed on top of his wardrobe.

It was the prosecution case that Patterson’s claims that he was acting under duress were “nothing more than a fabrication ... a made up story ... one he could not keep right’’.

The jury were read a set of “agreed facts” between the prosecution and the defence, in which the ATM engineer admitted the burglary, but claimed he was acting under duress when he took the keys for the Northern Bank bunker, from the G4S key vault, and used to get the cash.

It was further agreed that following his arrest at his home on January 20, 2012 he was interviewed twice, during which he told police, he was “assaulted and threatened that his family would be shot or killed”.

Sentencing on Monday, Judge Kerr said “there may been an element of pressure in the case’’, adding that there had been no explanation given to the court as to where the money had ended up.