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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 13:41 GMT
Bank messenger thieves jailed
Court graphic
Three Ulster Bank messengers who stole hundreds of thousands of pounds they were meant to burn have been jailed.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Brian Kerr criticised the bank's "rather lax and slipshod procedures" as he jailed the men for two and a half years each.

However, Sir Brian told the trio the bank's failures could not excuse their "serious breach of trust in succumbing to temptation".

The three jailed on Friday were 42-year-old former police reservist Andrew Godfrey from Hampton Park, Bangor, and Belfastmen Liam O'Rawe, 42, of Downfine Park, and Paul O'Hare, 40, from Linden Gardens.

They stole more than 770,000 from the Ulster Bank's burn room in its former Waring Street headquarters in Belfast city centre between November 2001 and February 2003.

The trial judge said he was satisfied that the three messengers had received little from the remarkable opportunity which presented itself to them and that the vast bulk of the money taken had been recovered.

Sir Brian said the defendants had clear records and there was little likelihood of them reoffending.

The case had a shattering effect on their lives and that of their families, and their jailing would bear more heavily upon them all given the fall from grace it represented, he said.

BBC NI's Natasha Sayee reports
"The police became suspicious when large amounts of money were lodged into a building society account"


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