'Tiger kidnapping' sentencing adjourned

Three men convicted of carrying out a €2.28m “tiger kidnapping” robbery four years ago face up to life in prison when their sentence is finalised next week.

Three men convicted of carrying out a €2.28m “tiger kidnapping” robbery four years ago face up to life in prison when their sentence is finalised next week.

The three were found guilty following the longest criminal trial in the history of the state which ran to 66 days and heard more than 200 witnesses. The jury could not agree on verdicts for another two accused.

The three convicted men who appeared in Dublin Circuit Criminal Court court today amid heavy garda security are: Christopher Corcoran (aged 61), of Bayside Boulevard North, Sutton; Mark Farrelly (aged 37), of Moatview Court, Priorswood; and Jason Kavanagh (aged 34), of Parslickstown Court, Ladyswell.

The court heard that the Director of Public Prosecutions intends to retry David Byrne (aged 36) of Old Brazeel Way, Knocksedan, Swords and Niall Byrne (aged 27), of Aughavanagh Road, Crumlin.

They will appear again next week to set a date for their trial.

Judge Tony Hunt heard a summary of evidence detailing how four raiders held Securicor worker, Mr Paul Richardson’s family hostage, while he delivered them the €2.28m.

The men’s defence counsel also made brief pleas in mitigation for their clients. They said both Corcoran and Kavanagh are in ill health and will find prison difficult.

All five men had pleaded not guilty to robbing €2.28m from Mr Richardson and Securicor and to falsely imprisoning the Richardson family on March 13 and 14, 2005.

Inspector Paul Scott told prosecuting counsel, Mr Dominic McGinn BL, that Ms Marie Richardson was in her home with her 15-year-old son Kevin when they heard a knock on the door.

She assumed it was assumed it was her husband who had gone to pick up their other son Ian (aged 17) from football practice. When she opened the door four masked men forced their way into the house.

One of them grabbed her by the throat and forced her up against the wall before she and her son were led into the sitting room.

One of the men was described as extremely heavily built and wearing a boiler suit which did not fit so he was forced to tie it around his waist. Another man was “sweating profusely” as he confronted the family.

The men then brought in a box containing a Uzi submachine gun, revolver, a knife and a polaroid camera.

A short time later Mr Richardson and Ian arrived home and were also brought into the sitting room.

When Ian saw the scene he had a panic attack and had to be given a paper bag to breath into. One of the raiders, armed with the revolver took Mr Richardson into a back room and told him that they wanted him to do.

Mr Richardson later told gardaí the man seemed to have intimate knowledge of Securicor procedures and phraseology such as “buster button”. He also had what was either a Securicor walkie talkie or a Garda frequency scanner.

Mr Richardson agreed to do what the raiders told him but before he left the family were seated on the couch with an armed raider either side of them.

Polaroid pictures were taken of the raiders pointing their guns at the family. These pictures were then given to Mr Richardson so he could show his co-workers to prove his family were in danger.

Inspector Scott told Mr Clarke that raiders took the Richardson mother and sons to a secluded area called Cloon Wood in Co Wicklow, leaving Mr Paul Richardson to spend the night captive in his home.

He said two raiders took Marie, Ian and Kevin Richardson up a path in the woods prior to their release and bound their wrists with cable ties, which Kevin later cut using a small knife on his keyring, till the pair got a call to say the €2.28m had been deposited.

Mr Richardson told gardaí he was confined mainly to the downstairs living room but that he heard snoring coming from his son’s bedroom during one accompanied trip to the bathroom.

Inspector Scott said this tied in to forensic scientists finding Kavanagh’s DNA on a pillow case which was used briefly by the armed men as a makeshift balaclava.

He said Mr Richardson travelled early to work the following morning and got his work colleagues to help him carry out the job for the gang by showing them the Polaroids of him and his family at gunpoint.

Inspector Scott said the drop-off point at the Anglers Rest Pub in Lucan was out of public view. He said Mr Richardson drove slowly towards Mullingar after he had deposited the cash, expecting a call from the raiders to say his wife and children were safe.

The Inspector said Mr Richardson was “in a state of collapse” when he finally stopped driving and Securicor told him over the radio that his family was unharmed.

Inspector Scott said the family continue to suffer anxiety and post traumatic stress four years after the robbery and that Mr Richardson feels “the old Paul is dead” and a more serious, anxious and alert man is in his place.

He said Mr Richardson feels particularly vulnerable when he hears of other tiger kidnappings in the media.

Inspector Scott told Mr Clarke that the garda investigation focused heavily on mobile phone contact between suspects using cell site analysis and that there was “significant” phone activity between Corcoran, Kavanagh and Farrelly on March 13, 2005.

Gardai found a pair of boots similar to those of the raiders in Kavanagh’s home, while the stolen Jeep owner’s yellow florescent jacket was found at Farrelly’s house.

The Inspector said retired eircom worker, Corcoran, acted as a “scout” in the operation by frequently contacting the different parties to place them over the course of the night and the following morning leading up to the drop-off.

Inspector Scott told Mr Clarke that Corcoran had two previous convictions, including possession of an offensive weapon. He said Kavanagh had 20 previous convictions dating back to 1993, including handling stolen property, forgery and assault, while Farrelly had six previous convictions including burglary and assault.

He said there was “a strong connection” between the three men and evidence that Farrelly and Corcoran travelled to Spain together immediately after the robbery.

Mr Shane Costelloe, for Kavanagh, submitted to Judge Hunt that his client played an “active role” in caring for his children before his incarceration as his wife is in poor health.

Mr Aidan Toal BL, defending Corcoran, submitted that his client’s role was to be a “scout” for the gang. Judge Hunt replied that the evidence showed he was more of a “scout leader.

Mr Toal said he could not argue against the “perspicacity of the jury” but took issue with their verdict and intended to appeal.

He said Corcoran was in poor health and “any sentence could be his undoing”. Judge Hunt noted he had been of some assistance to gardaí and at one stage seemed to be on the verge of a full confession.

Mr Costelloe said Kavanagh suffered from chronic diabetes. He said that while he had 20 previous convictions, they were all for minor offences and he had never been in prison except for a three month sentence imposed in 1994.

He said he had been a boxer and represented Dublin and Leinster at senior level. He had also been a boxing instructor and active member of his local club.

Mr Costelloe submitted that Kavanagh was “no fool” and knew he was going to jail and this was causing serious distress to his wife and children.

Mr Ciaran O’Loughlin SC, representing Farrelly, said his client was not involved in physically threatening the family and had expressed sympathy for their ordeal.

He said he had two young daughters, one of whom suffered from a medical condition.

Judge Hunt said he needed time to read reports and letters handed in on the men’s behalf and adjourned finalisation until next week.

He also adjourned to the same date, a hearing involving RTÉ where they will be asked to explain a potentially prejudicial mention of the trial on the Marian Finucane Show.

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