By Declan Brennan
A cash-in-transit van driver has told a tiger kidnapping trial that he collapsed on the side of the road after hearing that an armed gang had released his wife and young sons.
Securicor worker Paul Richardson is continuing his evidence on day two of the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court trial of four men who are accused of being part of a gang that kidnapped his family and robbed €2.28m.
Mark Farrelly (46), Christopher Corcoran (70), David Byrne (45) and Niall Byrne (36) all pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of four members of the Richardson family at their home at Ashcroft, Raheny, Dublin, on March 13 and 14, 2005.
Mr Farrelly of Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock, Mr Corcoran of Rosedale, Raheny, Dublin, David Byrne of Old Brazil Way, Knocksedan, Swords, and Niall Byrne of Crumlin Road Flats, Dublin, also pleaded not guilty to robbing Paul Richardson and Securicor of €2.28m on March 14, 2005.
Mr Richardson told the jury that armed raiders burst into his family home on a Sunday evening and drove his wife and sons away. They then told him to go to work the next day and collect the cash as usual.
He said at between three and four in the morning a raider handed him a mobile phone and told him: “talk to your wife”. He said his wife was on the phone, he asked her if she was alright and she asked him the same question.
After he left for work the next day, members of the gang continued to contact him on the phone with further instructions. They were aware of his daily routine and told him “we're watching you all the time”, the court heard.
At one point when there was a delay in a vaults of the Securicor depot, a man with a Northern Irish accent rang Mr Richardson. The witness said this man spoke aggressively to him and asked him what the delay was.
Mr Richardson said he tried to explain that there was an delay in the vehicle hangar. He said the caller was impatient and told him to hurry up.
Mr Richardson said when he told the two other Securicor employees on his crew that his family had been kidnapped, he described it as “the worst thing that could ever happen to us”.
He said the two co-workers agreed to go along with the gang's instructions because they had his wife Marie and their boys. The gang then telephoned with instructions to drive out towards west Dublin.
At one point Mr Richardson said he saw an unmarked garda car speeding past with its lights flashing. He said he became concerned that something had gone wrong and they were in pursuit of the raiders.
“All the time I was afraid for Marie and the boys because I couldn’t trust these men for what they were going to do or their intentions,” he said.
Mr Richardson said that the raiders gave further instructions to drive to the Anglers Rest pub in west Dublin and leave the bags of cash in the car park.
He said while he was emptying the cash he asked the raider, over the mobile phone, when he would see his wife and children again.
“He ignored me. He just said, keep getting that money out as quick as you can. Don't be fucking around,” the witness said. The raider told him to leave the mobile phone and other Securicor documents with the cash.
Mr Richardson said he asked again when he would see his family. The raider told him he would contact him via a Securicor walkie-talkie.
The gang told Mr Richardson to drive out west along the N4 and wait until they contacted him to say his family were safe. They told him they wanted 50 minutes from the time “the drop” was made before making contact.
Mr Richardson told the trial that the pressure he was feeling caused his driving after he had dropped off the money to be erratic. He was moving in and out of lanes and driving slowly, he said.
“I was crying. At times it was hard to see through the tears,” he said.
He said he was experiencing chest pains and his two colleagues were telling him to pull the van over. He said he didn't want to do that until he received the call from the raiders to say his family were safe.
His chest pains increased and he could hardly drive, he said, and he eventually stopped the van. His two work colleagues raised the alarm with Securicor.
The men were then informed that Mrs Richardson and their sons had been released safely. Mr Richardson said when he heard this he began to feel very faint.
“I needed air. The pains in my chest were very bad. I collapsed on to the floor of the van,” he said.
His workmates lifted him up and put him into the revolving door of the security van. The door opened and he fell out onto the road.
“The next thing I remember, I was in the back of an ambulance. We were heading to Mullingar hospital and I was being attended to by paramedics,” he said.
The jury heard that this is a retrial and that a number of others were prosecuted for these offences.