Meath man accused of robbery, false imprisonment and gun possession

A delivery driver has told a jurytoday that he and his co-worker were falsely imprisoned during a robbery of over €300,000 worth of tobacco products.

On the opening day of the trial, Joseph O’Toole, told prosecuting counsel, Mr Paul Carroll BL, he was made help load a van with the tobacco products while his co-worker was tied up with plastic cable ties.

Francis (Frank) Cunningham (aged 63), of Bog Road, Longwood in Co Meath has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to the robbery of tobacco products worth €314,916 and the false imprisonment of Mr O'Toole and Edward Postol in Blanchardstown on March 14, 2007.

He has also pleaded not guilty to possession of a firearm or imitation firearm and unlawful use of a mechanically propelled vehicle on the same date in the same place.

Mr O’Toole said he and his co-worker, Mr Postol, were preparing to leave Bond Delivery’s warehouse in North West Business Park at around 8.20am with a delivery of tobacco products.

Prior to leaving the warehouse Mr O’Toole performed daily security checks with their Belfast office.

Mr O’Toole said he noticed the back wheel on the driver’s side was flat and when the van was loaded with the tobacco products, they drove to a nearby Texaco Service Station to get air.

They left the business park and drove along Snugborough Road to the Texaco Service Station and reversed into a parking bay.

As they got out of the van, a man with a scarf partially covering his face came up beside Mr Postol and shouted at the pair to get back into the van.

“At the time I can’t say I noticed he had anything with him but I just assumed he had a weapon,” said Mr O’Toole.

“He ordered me to drive to Dolly Heffernan’s pub car park and told us there would be people with guns waiting for us.”

He said the man tied Mr Postal’s hands and feet with cable ties and put him into the back of the van. He ordered Mr O’Toole to help unload the tobacco products into another van which had reversed up beside his van. This was driven by another man who had a scarf covering his face.

The security phone on the van’s dashboard rang but Mr O’Toole was told not to answer it.

His hands were then tied up with cable ties and he and Mr Postal were locked into the back of their van.

“We worked hard to free our hands and then I used Edward’s phone to ring the transport supervisor to let him know what had happened. I also pressed the security alarm in the rear of the van. We couldn’t open the van doors as it can only be open from the outside.”

“I was feeling scared and worried for our safety,” said Mr O’Toole.

The trial continues before Judge Donagh McDonagh and a jury of six men and six women.

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