Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Wednesday, 10 September 2008 17:00 UK

26m bank trial shown CCTV images

By Conor Macauley
BBC News

Northern Bank in Belfast
The robbery took place at the Northern Bank's Belfast headquarters

The trial of the man accused of the 26m Northern Bank robbery has been shown CCTV images of boxes of cash being gathered up.

The boxes, which were located in the bank's vault, were then collected by the robbers.

Chris Ward, a bank employee from Colinmill in Poleglass, Belfast, denies being the "inside man".

He is accused of facilitating the massive cash robbery at the Northern's Belfast headquarters in December 2004.

The families of Mr Ward and a senior colleague, Kevin McMullan, were held hostage overnight.

The two men were then ordered to go to work and load up millions of pounds of cash which was collected by the gang who pulled up in a van outside the bank.

But the Crown claims Chris Ward was in on the conspiracy, and changed a work rota to ensure he was on duty that day.

Footage

On the second day of his trial security footage from the cash centre in the basement of the bank was played to Belfast Crown Court.

It shows Both Mr Ward and Mr McMullan loading boxes containing 100 and 50 in new Northern Bank notes into a lift, before moving it to street level for loading into the gang's van.

Later, the two men can be seen manhandling two huge steel cages wrapped in heavy black polythene into the lift.

The crown claims those cages were stacked with used notes which were taken away by the gang during a second collection from the street outside the bank.

Chris Ward
Mr Ward denies the charges against him

The court was also shown CCTV footage of Chris Ward walking out of the bank with a sports bag containing 1m in cash, which it is alleged was handed over to the thieves before the main robbery took place to reassure them that everything was going to plan.

The defence took exception to the way the Crown presented its CCTV evidence. It said the picture of Chris Ward walking out of the bank with the bag - which was released to the media at the time - had become the "iconic image" of the robbery.

Defence QC Arthur Harvey said it was open to an interpretation which could be "very damaging "to his client" and that the Crown had selected sequences of CCTV images - concentrating on Mr Ward - which had not given a full picture of the events of that day.

In fact Mr Harvey said, there was CCTV footage of virtually every moment of the day of the robbery. Much of it, he said, showed Mr Ward and Mr McMullan "acting jointly" at all times in the collection and preparation of the cash for the gang.

Access

The trial also heard how police were not able to access important CCTV images from inside the Northern Bank headquarters building for at least two months after the robbery.

The officer responsible for viewing the imagery said there'd been two systems in operation at the bank.

One was a VHS system which officers had been able to get at immediately.

But the other was based on a computer hard drive system which was described as being the size of two filing cabinets.

Police had not been able to get at the images on that system for weeks, the court was told, because it had a problem and was overheating.



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