A member of a masked gang who caused an explosion as they tried to access a cash machine was caught after his girlfriend flagged down police for directions when she got lost.
Officers became concerned about the smell of cannabis from her car and detained all the occupants, including Ellis Boyd and got a DNA match for him linking him to the earlier abortive raid.
Police later recovered CCTV footage of Boyd and his fellow Liverpudlian Ian Jones leaving Aberdeen by train to head south following the explosion at a Spar store on the city’s Clifton Road on March 6 this year.
Unemployed Jones, 33, and benefit claimant Boyd, 26, both from Liverpool, admitted unlawfully and maliciously causing an explosion likely to endanger life or cause serious damage to property at the shop by feeding tubing attached to a gas cylinder into the ATM and igniting it.
The pair also pled guilty to attempting to force open the cash dispenser, while acting with others and with their faces masked, with intent to steal from it, when they appeared at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Advocate depute David Taylor said the cash dispenser was embedded in the front of the shop which was closed and secured at 10 pm on March 5.
The prosecutor said: “From 10.35 pm onwards the movements of a group of five males and an Audi Q5 vehicle in and around the scene were recorded by CCTV in the area and noted by some local residents.”
At one stage three of the gang were seen attempting to damage controls for the roller door on the shop.
A passing driver saw the Audi parked near the cash machine with the boot open and cabling or piping going between the ATM and the rear of the vehicle. He noticed three men dressed in dark clothing with balaclavas covering the faces at the car.
An explosion was later heard at the ATM and one of the men began striking the glass door of the Spar with an item while another opened the roller door.
Two men were also seen to use a lottery sign as a ram in a bid to break the glass door at the store before kicking in a pane and crawling into the shop where they looked behind the till where the ATM is sited.
Mr Taylor said: “A short time later police received a number of calls from members of the public alerting them to what was described as a loud bang.”
Officers arrived and found the front of the shop and ATM had been significantly damaged. Specialists said the damaged was likely caused by an explosion but no access had been gained to the cash dispenser which held £6,770 at the time.
The Audi Q5 was later found with false plates at Society Lane, in Aberdeen, and was discovered to have been stolen from an address in Liverpool.
Mr Taylor said that in the early hours of March 31 police on foot patrol in St Nicholas Street in Aberdeen was flagged down by Boyd’s partner who was driving a Vauxhall Astra.
The prosecutor said: “She was apparently lost and seeking directions. Officers became concerned about the apparent smell of cannabis emanating from the vehicle and detained all the occupants.”
Boyd was detained because of suspicions about possession of the drug but a DNA hit on a database linked him to a sample taken at the explosion scene. His DNA was found on copper piping at the end of a hose that was fed into the ATM’s cash dispensing slot.
A DNA match was also found for Jones from the Audi Q5 and he was later detained in Liverpool.
Defence counsel David Moggach, for Jones, told the court: “It is inevitable that there is going to be a significant custodial sentence.”
The judge, Lady Scott, deferred sentence on the pair for the preparation of background reports on both men who are remanded in prison.