08 December 2005

Ward claims PSNI set-up over heist


Image Hosted by ImageShack.us
Chris Ward

West Belfast Northern Bank employee Chris Ward has claimed he has been set up by the PSNI after being charged with the £26.5 million robbery at the bank last year.

Ward (24) from Colinmill in Poleglass is charged with robbing the Northern Bank of £26.5 million or thereabouts on 20 December 2004 and that a firearm was used to commit the offence.

He was charged after eight days of questioning during which he took part in 50 interviews.

The PSNI have admitted that the case against Ward is based on circumstantial evidence and that surveillance equipment was placed in his Belfast home and in holiday accommodation in Fuerteventura.

Chris Ward appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court yesterday (Wednesday).

When charged with the offence at Antrim PSNI station in the early hours of Wednesday, the West Belfast man protested his innocence saying; "Police have bugged my house, a holiday in Spain, went through all my phone records, my bank accounts, hounded my friends - even going as far as Australia - and have tortured me in an attempt to frame me with the Northern Bank robbery.

"Police have failed in all of these counts. They have held me longer than the hostage takers who seized me last year and indeed have held me in a police station for longer than anyone in the history of the North of Ireland."

At the short hearing yesterday the defendant, dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, spoke only to confirm that he understood the charges.

Ward’s family including his father Gerry, mother Rose and older brother Gerard, who were taken hostage during the robbery, were in court to hear the charge read. Mrs. Ward broke down in tears during the hearing.

Detective Inspector Sean Wright from the PSNI said that he believed he could connect Ward to the charge.

Niall Murphy from Kevin Winters solicitors defending, asked the Detective Inspector to confirm that his client had no criminal record, had told police that he was going on holiday, had no known history of violence and had repeatedly denied being involved in the robbery and that the case against Ward was circumstantial. Continued from front...

The PSNI officer confirmed that this was all correct and said that there were four main strands of the investigation including Ward’s actions on 18 and 19 December, his actions on 20 December, his ongoing witness account and his work rota.
The PSNI are alleging that Ward manipulated the work rota in order to create a window of opportunity.

"There are four main thrusts of this investigation," said Detective Inspector Wright.

"This is an ongoing investigation, while Mr Ward has been charged the investigation continues," he added.
Mr Murphy said that he would be applying for High Court bail for Ward in the very near future.

Ward was remanded in custody to appear at Belfast Magistrates Court via video link on 4 January.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus

Comments: Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?