'Tiger' trial hears details of family's ordeal

A Dublin woman has described her family's "tiger kidnapping" ordeal when armed raiders burst into her home in a €2.28m robbery four years ago.

Ms Marie Richardson revealed that she and her two teenage sons were taken in the back of a Jeep to Cloon wood near the Wicklow mountains in the early hours of March 14, 2005, where two masked men held them captive overnight.

She said: "I was frightened, very frightened. But felt like I was going into survival mode because my children were with me."

Prosecution counsel, Mr Denis Vaughan Buckley SC earlier told the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court that Mr Richardson would describe how he went to work the next morning and deposited over €2m cash from his Securicor van at The Angler’s Rest pub car park in Lucan, while his wife and sons were captive in Wicklow.

David Byrne (aged 36) of Old Brazeel Way, Knocksedan, Swords; Niall Byrne (aged 27), of Aughavanagh Road, Crumlin; Mark Farrelly (aged 37), of Moatview Court, Priorswood; Christopher Corcoran (aged 61), of Bayside Boulevard North, Sutton; and Jason Kavanagh (aged 34), of Parslickstown Court, Ladyswell have all pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning the Richardson family on March 13 and 14, 2005.

They have also pleaded not guilty to robbing Mr Richardson and Securicor on the same date.

Ms Richardson told Mr Vaughan Buckley that one of the raiders at her home had assured her: "Everything will be ok, your husband knows what to do. He has a job to do for us."

Ms Richardson said she looked at her husband, Paul, and said: "There’s no heroes… just do what they want."

She said she had initially thought the man who rang her doorbell around 10pm on March 13, 2005, was a fast-food delivery person at the wrong address.

She told Mr Vaughan Buckley that she reached for the door’s lever and as soon as she heard it click, the man had pushed his hand through and onto her face.

The man, whom she described as "Raider #1", wearing thick rimmed glasses, a baseball cap and with "long-ish" black hair, told her to stop screaming as she struggled with him in the doorway and two other men pushed past into the sitting room.

She said the first man gripped her in a headlock before he brought her into the living room, where her younger son was watching television, and assured her that "everything will be alright."

She said "Raider #1" concealed his face with a car blanket that had been on the sofa and a "heavier-set" raider wearing a black wool balaclava took a machine gun out of a cardboard box he’d carried into the house. She described the third raider as a "skinny fellow".

Ms Richardson said her husband arrived back at their Ashcroft home in Raheny with her other son a short while later and the raiders grabbed him by the lapels and held him at gunpoint.

The family were made to sit on a two-seat couch in the living room while "Raider #1" took a Polaroid photo of his masked companions pointing guns at their heads.

Ms Richardson said the largest raider asked for her husband’s car keys and moved his car from the driveway, before opening the front door to two other men.

These men did not come into the house, but sat waiting in a black Jeep as three Richardsons were told to gather coats, food and drink for their journey.

Ms Richardson told Mr Vaughan Buckley that the unmasked Jeep driver, who told her to call him "John", kept his back to his passengers at all times. "John" told her and the boys they’d come to no harm if they co-operated.

She said she only caught a brief glance of the side of his face once during her captivity.

The two raiders ordered her and her sons cover themselves with a duvet on the Jeep’s floor once they drove onto the Clontarf Road.

She said she caught glimpses of where they were headed and thought the raiders had a garda scanner because of the rough radio sound that filtered through to her in the back about a raid on a Beaumont petrol station.

The raiders brought the family to a woodland and at around 2.30am, they asked Ms Richardson if she wished to speak to her husband on the phone.

Ms Richardson said her husband told her he loved her but sounded "very upset".

She said her captors instructed her that they would leave her and the boys bound with cable ties once they got a call to leave the area. These ties would be loose enough and as soon as the family freed themselves, they were to go to a nearby woodland house and alert the gardaí.

Ms Richardson said she noticed the men starting to get anxious after 8.30am and "John" informed her that: "It won’t be long now."

The two raiders tied the Richardsons with cable ties and left shortly after.

Ms Richardson described how the family flagged down a passing ranger once they’d used a souvenir knife from the youngest son’s key-ring to free their hands and feet.

The trial, which is expected to last three months, continues before Judge Tony Hunt and a jury of seven men and five women.

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