Dungannon woman took advantage of cash machine glitch to steal £17,250 in 37 transactions on one day

editorial image

A single mother from Dungannon, who took advantage of a glitch in a bank system to steal over £17,250 in one day, was given a six months jail sentence, suspended for two years at Dungannon Crown Court.

Jenna Nicola Armstrong, 29 from Drumreany Road, Dungannon made 37 transactions from an Ulster Bank ATM machine on June 22 2012 totalling £17,250, the court heard from Prosecutor Michael McAleer.

Two years later, a fraud investigator for the bank discovered the glitch and fraud.

Customers who made withdrawals from the ATM machine, found the balance stayed the same, as there was no record of any change to the amount in the bank.

The pregnant defendant pleaded guilty to a single charge of theft of cash to the value of £17,250 or thereabouts from Ulster Bank on June 22 2012, at yesterday’s Crown Court.

The defendant was confronted by the bank, but did not repay the money owed.

Initially at interview she told police that half the cash was taken from her and she spent the other half.

Mr McAleer said there might have been other transactions and another incident that was not before the court.

When confronted by the bank, Armstrong said she would be able to pay small amounts.

The Prosecutor said the defendant had no previous convictions, but it was unfortunate that no restitution had been made.

Defence Counsel Mr Dillon said his client was the mother of an 11-year-old boy that she had when she was 18 years of age.

She was now in mid term of her second pregnancy and a birth was due in September.

His client was on Benefits totally £180 per week and was a carer for her grandfather.

Mr Dillon said his client had made an offer to repay the Bank, but this was not acceptable to the bank.

Mr Dillon said his client had made a full admission in August 2014 and had she not made these admissions it could have been “difficult”.

The court was told that Armstrong used the stolen cash to pay debts showed.

Mr Dillon said the bank had the option of taking a civil case, but had not done so.

Judge Paul Ramsey said the custody threshold had been passed, but because of her circumstances as a single mother who was pregnant, and the bank had not gone to the police for two years.

The judge said that in all the circumstances it was an “exceptional case” that merited no immediate custodial sentence.

He said it was pointless to impose any restitution, as she could not pay it, adding that the bank had the option of “the civil route”. The judge did not think it was appropriate to impose an immediate sentence.