The detective, known only as Detective Garda A, yesterday gave evidence of his involvement in foiling a post office robbery which occurred in the north Co Dublin village of Lusk on the morning of May 26, 2005, and in which two raiders — Colm Griffin and Eric Hopkins — were shot dead by members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit.
Det Garda A told a joint inquest at Dublin City Coroner’s Court into Griffin and Hopkins’s deaths that after entering the sorting office, Det Garda A told the court he heard a banging noise, which he thought was gunfire.
“The banging got very loud… I thought I heard... gunfire. I heard a very loud bang (the glass coming over the counter), and I was positive it was gunfire,” said Det Garda A. “I took the decision I should confront the raiders.”
He said that after he had shot the first raider, Griffin, twice in self defence, he thought the ‘second raider’ Hopkins, was planning to shoot him and so he discharged his weapon for a third time.
“I saw the second raider’s right hand coming in and he put his hand on the weapon.
“I believed this man was ‘an immediate and serious threat’, Det Garda A told the court. “I called, ‘Armed gardaí. Drop the gun and get to the floor’.
“Suddenly and aggressively, he moved towards me. In that instance I believed he was going to kill me.
“His hands were coming out of concealment and I believed he had a gun and was a threat. I felt I had no option but to discharge my pistol at him and I discharged one round.”
However, Detective Garda A agreed that CCTV footage shown in court yesterday revealed that Mr Hopkins didn’t have a gun in his hand at the time he was shot.
Both raiders died as a result of their wounds.
Detective Garda A is one of two detectives who were directly involved in the operation to foil the attempted robbery at Lusk on the morning in question.
He told the court yesterday that his brief on the day in question was to prevent the raiders from entering the building and to protect the other members of the public and staff on the premises.
The other detective, Detective Garda B, is expected to give evidence on Monday.
A further five gardaí will give evidence from behind a screen to protect their identities before the inquest concludes.
The inquest resumes on Monday.