Accused was bewilderingly naive, court hears in kidnap plot trial

A Pakistani takeaway delivery driver was shocked to find a man standing beside the open boot of a car wearing a balaclava and pointing a gun at him.

The victim said yesterday he still had nightmares about what happened to him outside Charleville, Co Cork.

The would-be kidnapper was described as “bewilderingly naïve”.

Kieran Delaney, Gurteen, Ballybrit, Roscrea, Co Offaly, pleaded guilty to having an imitation firearm to commit false imprisonment, damaging a car, and stealing it.

Garda Gary Costello told Cork Circuit Criminal Court the injured party, Rana Zahid Habib, got a call for takeaway food to a parked car on the Limerick Rd, outside Charleville. On arrival, the car had its flashers on and the boot was open. A man went to the boot and returned wearing a balaclava and pointing what appeared to be a handgun.

The delivery man got a terrible fright and drove away. After about a kilometre, he decided to do a U-turn and drive back towards Charleville. The other car was driving against him and it crashed into him head-on.

He jumped out and ran away, with Delaney and another man running after him. They gave up the chase but their own car was not in a drivable condition and they drove away in the injured party’s vehicle.

Garda Costello said the imitation handgun was found in the car left behind, along with a balaclava and cable ties.

Delaney had no previous convictions. He had decided to assist a friend who told him he was owed €7,000. The plan was to kidnap the injured party and demand a €7,000 ransom from his brother. The man who came up with the plan is still at large.

Delaney pleaded guilty, with the probation report describing him as “bewilderingly naïve”. His barrister, Sinead Behan, agreed. He brought €6,000 cash to court to compensate the victim for the car damage.

Mr Zahid Habib said yesterday: “I have very bad dreams and nightmares. I have a constant vision of the man pointing the revolver at my head and I have visions of being killed.

“A particular dream involves me being led into a forest with my hands tied with the intention of people going to kill me.”

Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin remanded Delaney on bail for sentencing on July 28.

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