Stephen Anthony Dunne avoids jail for ‘Mission Impossible’ ATM plot

A man used “Mission Impossible-style” tactics to break into cash-loaded automatic teller machines by entering through roofs and cutting into the machines with a grinder, a court has been told.

The court heard Irishman Stephen Anthony Dunne started as the scout for a group primarily targeting Suncorp ATMs across Brisbane and the Gold Coast, but ended up committing the crimes on his own and roping a friend into his final string of offences.

The attacks were described as protracted, organised and persistent, causing nearly half a million dollars’ worth of damage and lost profits.

Dunne, who had pleaded guilty earlier this year to six counts of enter premises and commit indictable offence by break, sat quietly through his sentencing at Brisbane District Court on Tuesday.

Crown prosecutor Clayton Wallis said the ATM attacks, which occurred between January 2017 and 2018, targeted the machine’s “bunker” – a locked room behind the interface that housed the cash-loaded safe.

Mr Wallis said offenders would gain entry by entering through the roof cavity of shopping centres and using a grinder to cut their way into the bunker.

Dunne, 41, became involved in the offending in June 2017, acting as a lookout for one of the break and enters.

The court was told he began to act on his own when he became aware of the methods and the potential yield he could gain.

After one successful break, Dunne targeted ATMs in places that include Arana Hills, Labrador and Palm Beach using the same methods but was thwarted due to equipment malfunctioning.

“It’s Mission Impossible-style, making his way into bunkers, trying to cut it open with grinders,” Mr Wallis said.

“It was organised, there was planning and deliberation.”

On one occasion, Dunne broke through a wall to gain access to the ATM.

He was arrested after successfully breaking into another ATM at a shopping centre in Aspley in January 2018.

Defence lawyer Angus Edwards said Dunne, from Dublin, led a good life prior to his offending and had worked as a telco rigger across Ireland, Scotland, Nicaragua and Australia.

The court heard he said his client fell into drugs and alcohol abuse and became involved with “criminally-minded men” after learning of his father’s sexual abuse.

Mr Edwards said Dunne wanted to be a better father to his children.

The court was told Dunne’s cocaine use was “largely the catalyst” for the offending.

Chief judge Brian Devereaux sentenced Dunne to five years’ jail but wholly suspended his term.

More than 300 days spent in pre-sentence custody was declared as time served.

Dunne also received a three-year probation order.

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