Man jailed for eight years for Adrian Ronan kidnapping
Stephen Freeman involved in robbery of Kilkenny hurler and his family
A man involved in the tiger kidnapping of Kilkenny All Ireland hurling champion Adrian Ronan and his family has been sentenced to ten years in prison with the final two suspended. Photograph: Paddy Whelan/The Irish Times
The court heard Stephen Freeman’s role was to pick up and transport the money after the raid, but he couldn’t drive so a gambling associate taxi driver was hired. The case against Freeman was largely based on him admitting his involvement to this taxi driver.
Freeman (27) of Ballcurris gardens, Ballymun, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on a trial date to attempted robbery of cash with others from Bank of Ireland, Parliament Street, Kilkenny on Tuesday November 3rd, 2009. He also admitted using force on Adrian and Mary Ronan and members of their family in order to frighten them.
He has seven previous convictions.
Today, Judge Desmond Hogan commented that though he was dealing with an attempted robbery charge, the offence took place as part of a kidnapping.
The judge said: “There are a few categories of offences that in my view nearly are universally regarded with public opprobrium and certainly in my view tiger kidnapping comes within that category.”
The judge said Freeman was acting in common design. He commented Freeman was “enthusiastic” to get involved as he got somebody else to do the driving when he couldn’t fulfil this role.
Judge Hogan described the written statements from the Ronan family as “harrowing” reading. “I must say that listening to Mr Ronan and the effects it has had on him and his family has left me with nothing but extreme disgust,” the judge said.
He noted the family is still suffering from the effects of the “horrific, abominable crime”. He said he hoped the outcome of this case would bring the family some closure.
The judge took into account Freeman’s age at the time of the offence and his guilty plea. He suspended the final two years of the 10 year sentence for three years. He also ordered that Freeman undergo any gambling addiction course deemed appropriate by the Probation Services.
Det Insp Michael Hennebry said Freeman was the only person to be prosecuted for the raid though many were arrested.
He revealed the Ronans woke up at 5am to find three masked men in their bedroom.
The raiders cable tied Mr Ronan’s hands and told him: “You’re going to do a job for us. We’re taking your wife and you’re going to get us €3 million.”
They asked Mr Ronan: “Do you want your kids to be without a mother for Christmas?”
They drove Mrs Ronan to a disused weather station outside Kilkenny, where she was tied to a swivel chair at gun point for eight hours.