Three men have been convicted of kidnapping a family at gunpoint and carrying out a €2.28 million cash-in-transit van robbery 13 years ago.
After nearly 16 hours of deliberations, the jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court convicted Mark Farrelly (47), Christopher Corcoran (70) and David Byrne (45) of being part of the armed gang that took Marie Richardson and her two young sons from their Dublin home on March 13, 2005.
The gang forced Securicor van driver Paul Richardson to go to work the next day while his family were held at gunpoint in the Dublin mountains.
The jury will return tomorrow morning to continue deliberations in the case of Niall Byrne (36). Mr Byrne worked for Securicor at the time of the robbery and the State allege he was the gangs's “inside man”.
Judge Melanie Greally told the jury they can now return a "majority verdict", meaning a verdict on which ten or more jurors agree.
Farrelly of Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock, Corcoran of Rosedale, Raheny, Dublin, Niall Byrne of Crumlin Road Flats, Dublin and David Byrne of Old Brazil Way, Knocksedan, Swords, pleaded not guilty to robbing Mr Richardson and Securicor of €2.28 million on March 14, 2005 and to the false imprisonment of the Richardson family at their home at Ashcroft, Raheny on March 13 and 14, 2005.
The trial began last January before a specially enlarged jury of 15. Three jurors were discharged due to personal commitments and 12 jurors are now deliberating on the evidence.
During the trial, the jury heard how on the night of Sunday, March 13, 2005 armed men burst into the Richardson's family home.
The men were wearing boiler suits and balaclavas and had a box with them. They removed guns, including a sub-machine gun, from this box and told the family to co-operate.
The gang told Mr Richardson to go to work, collect the cash and drop it off in a car park. He was told that his family would be released if he did this.
The jury heard that Ian Richardson, who was a teenager at the time, had a panic attack and this caused some trauma for his parents and panic among the kidnappers.
The gang took Polaroid photographs of the family flanked by two armed men and they gave these to Mr Richardson to help him convince his work colleagues to co-operate with the gang's plans.
Some members of the gang then loaded Marie Richardson and her sons into the back of a Jeep and drove them across the city and into the Wicklow mountains, the court heard.
The gang held the family in the back of the van overnight. The next morning they marched the family up into a nearby woods and used cable ties to tie them up and then left them.
During this time, Mr Richardson drove to work and collected the cash for his day's job. He then drove to the Angler's Rest pub in Dublin's Strawberry Beds and dropped the cash in the pub's car park.
His instructions were then to drive west along the N4 until the kidnappers contacted him to say his family had being released.
This call never came and Mr Richardson became increasingly anxious and began to experience chest pains. His colleagues forced him to stop the van and they raised the alarm.
By this stage, Mrs Richardson and her sons had managed to free themselves from the cable ties using a penknife. They walked down the woods and met a forest ranger who raised the alarm.
The garda investigation began with the knowledge that during the night, kidnappers had allowed a call between Mrs Richardson in the mountains and Mr Richardson in Raheny. Gardai examined mobile phone activity in the remote mountain area at that time and identified two mobile numbers.
Gardai looked at all other mobile phone numbers these two mobile phones had contacted and built up a network of between eight or nine mobile numbers used at times and locations relevant to the offences, prosecution counsel Dominic McGinn SC said during the trial.
It was the State's case that these numbers are inextricably linked to the robbery and that the four accused were using some of these phone numbers. He said other people were also involved but that these people were not before the court.
The State alleged that Farrelly was the mastermind of the gang and his phone was used to co-ordinate the movements of the various gang members.
Corcoran was alleged to have been a “scout” during the kidnap, driving ahead of the Jeep to make sure nobody interrupted the progress of the kidnap.
David Byrne was alleged to have been one of the two men who was in the Jeep that brought the Richardsons into the mountains.
The investigation initially focused on any mobile phone activity in the remote mountain area on the night. Gardai identified two mobile numbers they believed were used by the gang.
From analysing the records of these two numbers they built up a network of nine mobile phones which the State alleges were used by the various raiders.
The prosecution evidence then focused on linking some of these numbers to the defendants. The jury heard that other people were also involved but that these people were not before the court.