'He hadn't even taken out his gun . . . when one of them let off a shot and blasted him'
The raiders were waiting as the Garda car arrived in the credit union car park
The gang that shot Det Garda Adrian Donohoe in Co Louth continued with their planned robbery as he lay dead on the ground and eventually escaped with €4,000 from the Lordship Credit Union.
The raiders spoke with what were described as local accents.They appeared to have very good knowledge of the road network in the area and of the times for the movement of cash from the credit union, at Bellurgan on the Cooley Peninsula north of Dundalk.
A gang of criminals from the north Louth and south Armagh area are the chief suspects.
They raided the post office in 2011 and escaped with just over €60,000 on a Friday night as armed gardaí were about to arrive to escort the cash into a bank night safe in Dundalk.
However, the investigation into the events of last Friday night is still in the early stages and the involvement of dissident republicans is not being discounted.
Det Garda Donohoe was shot in the head and face on the right side at close range the moment he stepped out of his unmarked Garda car as he went to check on a suspicious vehicle. He and a colleague had arrived to provide an armed escort to a credit union staff member who was just about to drive her own car the short distance into Dundalk to deposit money from the credit union into a bank night safe in the town.
Informed sources said the level of violence directed at Det Garda Donohoe was completely disproportionate to the threat he posed to the gang.
“He hadn’t even taken out his gun or challenged them properly when one of them let off a shot and blasted him in the face,” said one source.
He was a front-seat passenger of the unmarked Garda car which was being driven by his colleague Det Garda Joe Ryan.
The two armed detectives pulled into the car park of the Lordship Credit Union on the Jenkinstown Road, Bellurgan, at about 9.30pm to meet the staff member and afford her an armed escort into Dundalk.
However, when they entered the car park another car that had carried four men to the scene was waiting.
Det Garda Donohoe thought this was unusual and the moment his car came to a standstill he alighted, intending to approach the men and ask them what they were doing there. However, he was fired at when he stepped out of his vehicle and fell to the ground. The raiders then moved towards the Garda car and the credit union premises. They shouted at Det Garda Ryan to stay back and pointed at least one firearm at him. They also shouted at credit union staff who were locking up the building at the time. They grabbed a bag containing money from a staff member, got back into their car and were driven from the scene.