A cash-in-transit van driver has described how armed raiders entered his home and pointed a gun at his teenage son's head as the boy lay on the floor having a panic attack.
Securicor worker Paul Richardson took the stand today on the first day of the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial of four men who are accused of being part of a gang that kidnapped his family and robbed €2.28m.
Mark Farrelly (aged 46), Christopher Corcoran (aged 70), David Byrne (45) and Niall Byrne (aged 36) all pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of four members of the Richardson family at their home at Ashcroft, Raheny, Dublin, on March 13 and 14, 2005.
Mr Farrelly of Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock, Mr Corcoran of Rosedale, Raheny, Dublin, David Byrne of Old Brazil Way, Knocksedan, Swords, and Niall Byrne of Crumlin Road Flats, Dublin, also pleaded not guilty to robbing Paul Richardson and Securicor of €2.28m on March 14, 2005.
Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, told the jury that the case involved what has become known as a tiger kidnapping.
Mr Richardson told the court that back in 2005, he had worked for Securicor for 12 years. He still works for the company, the court heard.
He said he worked for the ATM division in 2005 and his role involved loading ATM machines around Dublin and Leinster.
On the night in question, a Sunday night, Mr Richardson described leaving the family home in Raheny to pick up his 17-year-old son, Ian, from his girlfriend's house in Clontarf. His wife, Marie, and 13-year-old son Kevin remained at home, the court heard.
When Mr Richardson and Ian returned home, they noticed a car containing two people parked at an angle near his home and that their porch door was open. When they entered the house, they were immediately confronted by two men holding guns, Mr Richardson said.
Mr Richardson said one of the men was “a big, fat guy”, about six feet tall, who was holding a machine gun. The other man was about 5'8” in height and holding a hand gun. Both men were wearing navy boiler suits, gloves and balaclavas.
The court heard Mr Richardson and his son were pushed into the sitting room, where his wife and Kevin were. Ian then started having a panic attack, Mr Richardson said. He had never had a panic attack prior to this, the court heard.
“He was lying on the ground,” Mr Richardson said, adding his son was “shuddering” and making “a terrible noise”.
Mr Richardson said the man with the handgun then pointed the gun at Ian.
“He said, 'Get him to shut the fuck up or I'll get him to shut up' and he pointed the gun at my son's head,” Mr Richardson said. “I'll never forget that as long as I live.”
The family managed to calm Ian down with a paper bag and a glass of water. At this point, two other men entered the house. They were also wearing navy boiler suits and balaclavas.
The man with the handgun then brought Mr Richardson into the back room, sat him down at the table and told him: “You're going to do a job for us”, the court heard.
This man seemed to be in charge and he seemed to know how things were run in Securicor, Mr Richardson said.
He ordered Mr Richardson to get a key for them and gave him instructions in relation to what he was to do in the morning. This included giving a '10/11' which involved transmitting the names of the van crew, the registration of the van and whether there were walkie-talkies on board, among other things.
He then ordered him to tell his family everything was going to be OK, which Mr Richardson did.
A photo was taken of the family sitting on the couch with guns pointing at them from either end, the court heard.
The men then told Mr Richardson: “Your wife and boys are going off for a while”. The family was ordered to gather some coats and biscuits before Marie and Kevin were taken out of the house first, followed by Ian.
Four men remained in the house with Mr Richardson, the court said. He said he was questioned further throughout the night about aspects of his job.
“My family was being mentioned constantly to me,” he said. He said at one stage, the man with the handgun told him: “If anything goes wrong, I won't be responsible for your family.”
“He also made it quite clear to me on several occasion that it was out of his hands and the family was mentioned constantly, constantly, constantly,” Mr Richardson said.
Judge Melanie Greally earlier told the jury that this was a retrial and that the previous trials came with media publicity. She warned jurors not to serve if they knew anything about the trial from this media coverage and that they should not research any aspect of the trial.
Mr Richardson will resume giving evidence tomorrow. The trial is expected to last until mid-April.