Man whose accomplice was shot dead by gardaí faces awaits sentence

A man whose accomplice was shot dead by gardaí as they tried to rob a cash van faces life imprisonment when he is sentenced next week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Armed gardaí were monitoring the men before they held up the van. The dead man, Mr Garrett Molloy (aged 27) fired a shot before he was shot and killed by a detective.

Keith Murtagh (aged 25) was also hit and seriously wounded. He underwent emergency surgery and was arrested after he was released from hospital six weeks later.

After the evidence was heard, Murtagh insisted on addressing the court and said the gardaí involved were murderers.

He said the deceased was a very close friend of his and they had know each other all their lives. He apologised to the cash van workers and gardaí but added: “No one turned around to me and said: ‘put down the weapon’. I’m casting them as murderers.”

Murtagh of Mariners Port, Sheriff Street Lower pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a weapon with intent to endanger life at Foxboro Road, Lucan on May 15, 2009.

Detective Sergeant Sean Cosgrove told prosecuting counsel, Mr Dominic McGinn BL, that the cash van containing three men was on its route in Lucan when they were warned by radio that there was suspicious activity in the area.

They stopped to refill an ATM and Mr Tim McDonald got out to open the machine. A black car pulled up and two men in balaclavas got out and ran towards him. One grabbed him and pushed him against the van while threatening to shoot him.

A colleague inside the van saw what happened and ejected a cash box containing €40,000. Mr McDonald then heard a single gunshot and was sure he was going to be killed.

He then heard gardaí call out repeatedly: “drop your weapon” followed by several more gunshots. He ran away and initially thought he had been shot.

Det Sgt Cosgrove said there were another four men involved in the planned robbery and they have also been charged. He said gardaí had been aware of the raid and several units were standing by including the Emergency Response Unit.

He said the deceased had grabbed Mr McDonald while holding the shotgun. He said gardaí had made themselves known before firing five shots, hitting both raiders and that the whole incident last about 16 seconds.

When Murtagh was discharged from hospital he was arrested but refused to say anything in interview. He has 42 previous convictions for mostly minor offences.

Det Sgt Cosgrove agreed with Mr Michael O’Higgins SC, defending, that Murtagh was not an organiser or leader and had been taking part to pay back a debt. He said he had claimed to be the organiser but was doing this out of “a misplaced sense of loyalty or fear”.

Mr O’Higgins said his client had been raised in a extremely violent household and was a vulnerable person. He said he had some work as an film extra in the past including a speaking part in the film version of “Borstal Boy”.

He also submitted that Murtagh had suffered serious disfigurement and post traumatic stress disorder as a result of the robbery.

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