07 December 2005

Bank raid accused in frame claim


A bank worker charged with a £26.5m robbery has accused police of "hounding and torturing his family and friends" in order to "frame" him.

Chris Ward, 24, from Colinmill, Poleglass, has been charged with the 2004 Northern Bank robbery in Belfast.

He appeared at the city's magistrates' court on Wednesday where he spoke only to confirm he understood the charge.

But the court heard that when charged, he said police had held him "longer than the hostage takers" to frame him.

"Police have bugged my house (and) a holiday in Spain, went through all my phone records, my bank accounts, hounded my friends - even going as far as Australia," he was reported to have said, when he was charged at Antrim police station on Wednesday.

"They have tortured my family in an attempt to frame me with the Northern Bank robbery.

Mr Ward accused police of "framing" him

"Police have failed in all these attempts. They have held me longer than the hostage takers who seized me last year."

A detective inspector told the court he could connect Mr Ward with the charges.

The court was told that the case against him was based on four main areas: his actions on 18 and 19 December; his actions on 20 December, the day of the raid; his original account of what happened and a works rota.

Mr Ward was remanded in custody to appear by video link next month.

He was arrested just over a week ago at his Poleglass home.

The bank robbery was the biggest cash theft in UK history.

Three men have already been charged in connection with the raid.

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