Rush-hour traffic 'delayed would-be bank robbers' getaway car'

A member of a gang who arrived to rob a bank moments after it closed because their stolen getaway car had been delayed in rush-hour traffic has had his sentence adjourned at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Dermot O'Callaghan (aged 39) and his gang attempted to force the door open but fled after gardaí were alerted and he pointed a firearm out the back car window at gardaí during a high speed chase around heavy traffic.

O'Callaghan, of Maxwell Street, Rialto, pleaded guilty to possession of an imitation firearm and attempted burglary at Ulster Bank, Main Street, Tallaght on September 29, 2003.

The other members of the gang were sentenced in 2005: Barry Kelly (aged 30), of Kilmartin Road, Tallaght was jailed for 30 months and Raymond Birrell (aged 35), of Slievenamon Road, Drimnagh was jailed for three years.

Judge Tony Hunt adjourned sentencing until next month to allow him consider reports handed into court.

Garda Susan Kinsella agreed with defence counsel, Mr Luán Ó Braonáin SC (with Mr Shane Costelloe BL), that the actions of the gang were almost "laughable" and she said they may have missed the bank closing because traffic at that time on Friday afternoon was "bumper-to-bumper."

She agreed that five-foot-four-inches-tall O'Callaghan had drawn attention to himself by wearing a curly black wig and agreed gardaí asked him "did he think he was superman" when questioning him about his attempts to force the locked bank door open.

Garda Kinsella told prosecuting counsel, Mr Damien Colgan BL, that gardaí were alerted by witnesses who saw two men trying to force the bank door. She said she was in a patrol car in the area and observed the getaway car, the description of which had been circulated over garda radio, driving away at speed so they gave chase.

She said the car wove in and out through heavy traffic and up on the footpaths and avoided a "stinger" placed at a roundabout by gardaí to try to stop it until it was eventually "boxed-in" by patrol cars in Walkinstown.

Garda Kinsella said O'Callaghan pointed what turned out to be a pellet gun at gardaí out the back window of the car at two points during the high-speed chase. Kelly also had a gun in his hand which he dropped when confronted by armed gardaí but this turned out to be a children's toy cap gun.

She said the three were arrested and O'Callaghan refused to answer any questions during interview.

Garda Kinsella said O'Callaghan had 12 previous convictions for offences including robbery and burglary.

Mr Ó Braonáin asked the court to consider that O'Callaghan had used the intervening time since this offence well and was no longer the man he was at that time.

He said O'Callaghan was now caring for his young son who was born while his parents were both heroin addicts and suffered withdrawal symptoms as a newborn.

Mr Ó Braonáin said O'Callaghan was an "entrenched heroin addict who had turned his life around for his son" after being released early in 2000 from an eight-year sentence for attempted robbery with a firearm.

He asked the court to consider imposing a substantial sentence but to suspend it entirely to allow O'Callaghan continue caring for his son.

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