A young man with a drugs debt planned to blow up an ATM using a potentially catastrophic gas explosion at a petrol station but patrolling gardaí became suspicious of a car parked in the area and thwarted the escapade.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin sentenced 20-year-old Evan Stubbins from Church Road, Croom, County Limerick, to five years in prison at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
“This lad had no idea what he was doing except what he learned on the internet, he was an explosion himself waiting to happen. With a mishmash put together from the internet he was capable of enormous damage to himself and everyone else.
“He was at the time on a suspended sentence from the district court where he had been dealt with properly and leniently. He proceeded to surf the net and put together some theories on making explosions and going about this plan near Carrigaline. That is a significant aggravating factor in itself.
“The fact that he put this together in an effort to make an explosion to pay off a drug debt it is frightening to think – organising it, putting it in a car for the purpose of causing an explosion.
“It could have been caused by science. No other intervention would have been needed. Events could have overtaken him. I don’t think his ignorance of that is a mitigating factor.”
Defence barrister Ray Boland characterised the crime as a naïve attempt that had no prospect of success.
Sergeant Chris Cahill said gardaí from Togher and Passage West on patrol in the Carrigaline area in the early hours of August 2 spotted a Volkswagen Passat parked close to an ATM on the forecourt of the Maxol garage.
They approached the defendant and found that he had a screwdriver and was attempting to remove some part of the ATM with it. He made some effort to drive away but was stopped.
Gardaí found that he had two canisters of gas strapped in the back seat of his car. He also had a lump hammer, a con-saw, overalls and facemask.
A manufacturing engineer consulted by investigating gardaí confirmed that the pumping of the two gases – propane and oxygen into a confined space behind the ATM would have caused an explosion without the need for it to be ignited. However, as well as having a garden hose to pump the gas into the space around the ATM, the accused man also had a lighter.
The manufacturing engineer told gardaí that there was enough gas in the car to cause a massive explosion. During a bail application in August there was evidence of 30,000 litres of petrol and diesel being located close to the scene of this crime.
Sgt. Cahill said Stubbins told them at interview that he had a drug debt and was told that this was something he could do to repay the debt so he went on YouTube to find out how to do it.
Stubbins pleaded guilty to charges arising out of the crime at an AIB ATM at the Maxol Garage, Carr’s Hill, Carrigaline, County Cork, on August 2nd 2020. The charges included causing criminal damage to the AIB ATM, attempted theft and endangerment with explosives.