Man involved in kidnapping of hurling champion to be sentenced

Stephen Freeman pleaded guilty to attempting to steal cash from Kilkenny bank in 2009

Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice, Parkgate Street, Dublin

Dublin Criminal Courts of Justice, Parkgate Street, Dublin

Fri, Jul 4, 2014, 19:02

A man who was involved in the tiger kidnapping of Kilkenny All Ireland hurling champion Adrian Ronan and his family will be sentenced later this month.

The court heard that Stephen Freeman’s role was to pick up and transport the money after the raid.

However he couldn’t drive so a gambling associate taxi-driver was hired. The case against Freeman was largely based on him admitting his role to this taxi-driver.

Freeman (27) of Ballcurris gardens, Ballymun, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on a trial date to attempting to steal 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 their three children to frighten them.

He has seven previous convictions at district court level. Detective Inspector Michael Hennebry told Judge Desmond Hogan that many people were arrested for the raid but Freeman is the only one who has been prosecuted.

Judge Hogan said he would have to consider the evidence and documents handed in to court on Freeman’s behalf.

Patrick Treacy SC, prosecuting, told the court that the raiders knew there would be a “sizeable” amount of cash in the bank after the Halloween bank holiday weekend.

He added that they chose to attack on a Tuesday as they knew Securicor vans would be collecting the money that day.

Det Insp Hennebry revealed that the Ronans woke at 5am to find three masked and armed men in their bedroom.

One of the raiders brought the children downstairs and locked them in a bathroom with their mother.

They bound Mr Ronan’s hands with cable ties 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 showed Mr Ronan, who worked in the finance and leasing sector of Bank of Ireland, photo print outs of houses of two bank colleagues. One of the men informed Mr Ronan that they targeted him because he didn’t have a house alarm.

The raiders continued to threaten Mr Ronan and his wife, saying: “You do what we tell you and no harm will happen to you. You f*** up and she’s dead.”

They asked him: “Do you want your kids to be without a mother for Christmas?”

The men took Ms Ronan to say goodbye to her husband and drove her to a disused weather station outside Kilkenny, where she was tied to a swivel chair and iron pillar.

A raider kept her captive like this for eight hours and fired a bullet from his gun into the ceiling.

The garda said the armed raiders gave Mr Ronan a mobile phone and showed him a phone scanner to warn him off contacting gardaí.

Mr Ronan drove to work with his three children in the car. He put them in a separate room in the bank and was in tears when he told the manager about the raiders’ demands.

He received a number of phone calls over the morning about getting money. One was from a gunman he recognised from the house and another from an unidentified male who sounded “cool and mature”.

He expected a final call but it never came and a short time later gardaí rang him to say his wife had been located unharmed.