Kidnapping lands two mothers in jail

Two mothers of young children have been remanded in custody for sentence for kidnapping of a businessmen arising out of "a genuine but misguided belief" that he was "a conman".

Two mothers of young children have been remanded in custody for sentence for kidnapping of a businessmen arising out of "a genuine but misguided belief" that he was "a conman".

Celia Jones (aged 19), Foxdene Gardens and Denise Collins (aged 21), Neilstown Gardens, both Clondalkin, and their partners, Jason Ward (aged 34), of Clanmolier Court, Portarlington and Matthew Kearns (aged 20) of Palmerstown Woods, Clondalkin all pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to falsely imprisoning the victim on March 9, 2004.

Judge Donagh McDonagh remanded the men in custody earlier and had remanded the women on bail overnight so they could make arrangements for the care of their children.

Collins and Kearns have a three-month old baby and another child, while Jones and Ward are also the parents of school-going children.

Judge McDonagh noted at the first hearing that false imprisonment carried a potential life sentence and said it seemed "foolhardy in the extreme" to him that their legal advisors had not warned them in advance of the possibility of a custodial outcome.

Garda Padraic Jennings agreed with defence counsel that the kidnap saga arose out of "genuine but mistaken belief" that the victim was "a conman" as a result of local media newspaper articles about a "conman" operating in the area.

Garda Jennings said gardaí had no evidence whatever that the victim was a "conman". He had since closed his company due to fear as a result of his experience and was now unemployed

Garda Jennings told prosecuting counsel, Ms Kathleen Noctor BL, that the victim called to the Jones and Ward household at Foxdene Gardens to get a deposit for agreed proposed work. He had not been expected to call at that time and accepted their invitation to have a cup of tea.

Three other people, including Kearns and Collins, arrived within minutes and Collins accused him of taking a deposit from her for work which had not yet been completed. He offered her a refund by cheque but his chequebook was taken from him with the suggestion that the cheque would bounce.

Garda Jennings said the victim had a knife pointed at him by one of the people confronting him with the threat it would be run through his head if he did not refund the money demanded by Collins.

Kearns went to Clondalkin garda station and brought back a car change of ownership form which the victim was forced to sign before being released from the house.

Garda Jennings said the victim was told he would get his car back the next day if he returned with €300 which Collins said had been paid by her. He went direct to gardaí to report the false imprisonment.

Gardaí went to the house and took possession of the car, which was in the front drive, and of the change of ownership form which had been signed by Ward, who was arrested along with Jones.

Garda Jennings said they told gardaí of their concern as a result of the media stories and what they had been told by "a friend" about dealing with the victim whom they thought was "a conman".

Garda Jennings said Kearns and Collins both contacted him voluntarily. Though not arrested, they made full statements about their roles in the offence. Collins said they had come to the Foxdene Gardens house by arrangement and that all she wanted was her money back.

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