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Man who produced ‘gun’ in bank claimed he was a fan of cowboy films and that it was a ‘joke’

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PICTURE : MARK JAMIESON

A man accused of pointing a ‘revolver’ at a bank cashier in County Antrim claimed he did it as a “joke” with an “ornamental gun” he bought in an antique store as he was “fond of Wild West movies”.

Nollaig Magfhinn (60), from Mayo Drive in Ballycastle, allegedly produced the ‘gun’ in a bank after receiving a large sum of money from his own account, Coleraine Magistrates Court heard on Thursday.

Magfhinn faces charges of possessing a firearm or imitation firearm with intent to cause fear of violence, disorderly behaviour and resisting police.

A police officer said she believed she could connect the defendant to the charges.

She told the court how Magfhinn had allegedly entered the Ulster Bank on Ann Street in Ballycastle on Tuesday March 13. Having lifted a large sum of money out of his personal account from a staff member, Magfhinn, who was allegedly carrying plastic bags, began “rustling” them and produced a ‘revolver’ after saying: “It’s a good job you gave me that money or there would have been bother.”

The court was told how Magfhinn had allegedly left the bank and returned on Wednesday to apologise to the staff for what had happened.

He was stopped by police and arrested on Wednesday.

Magfhinn allegedly used an “aggressive tone” with the officers and kept his arms away from them to prevent them from being able to arrest him. The court was told that the staff at the bank did not report the incident on the day it occurred as they were still in shock and wished to speak to their own legal department.

When he was questioned about the ‘firearm’ which had been directed at the cashier, the defendant allegedly said it was meant as a joke.

The police officer told the court they had since recovered the ‘revolver’ and did not believe it was capable of being used as a firearm as it had been purchased at a nearby antique store.

Opposing bail, the police officer said that there could be a risk that the defendant would not return to court as he had allegedly said that it was his plan “to go on the run” and had only lifted English bank notes, to go and live permanently in his “holiday home”.

The officer said there was also a fear Magfhinn would interfere with witnesses as he entered the bank two or three times a week .

She said: “He is a real risk to himself and to others especially if he were to repeat this type of behaviour.”

A defence lawyer told the court how Magfhinn was “well-known” in Ballycastle and had “mental health issues”, as well as describing him as an “eccentric person.” He told the court how the defendant had lifted £2,500 from his own account on the Monday and returned the next day to lift £3,500 from the bank when he made the “joke.”

The defence lawyer told the court Magfhinn had purchased the “ornamental gun” as he was “fond of Wild West movies.” The court heard that Magfhinn did not possess a passport and so there would be no risk of him leaving the country.

District Judge Liam McNally said: “In relation to him withdrawing all this money, I’m worried about him disappearing. How do I know he does not have an Irish passport?”

From the dock, Magfhinn told the court: “They refused to give me one. I don’t have any passport.” The defence lawyer told the court that Magfhinn had cleared the account out and closed it.

Judge McNally granted Magfhinn bail on the sum of £3,500.

The defendant was told not to enter the bank and that he would be electronically tagged and have a night time curfew.

He was also told he would have to report weekly to Coleraine Police Station and was not to interfere with witnesses. He is also barred from possessing or consuming alcohol.
Magfhinn is due back in court in April.

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