A Dublin man who went on a cocaine-fuelled driving rampage armed with a submachine gun has been jailed for nine years.
Joseph Rafferty (38) seized multiple vehicles from their owners at gunpoint and led gardaí on a dangerous high speed chase because he believed his wife was having an affair, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told.
His crimes over the eight hour spree include false imprisonment, aggravated burglary, threats with a machine gun and reckless endangerment. The area he covered from start to finish was 45km.
Chief Superintendent Brian Sutton said 50 gardaí were deployed in Rafferty's pursuit throughout the day, including air support and members of the Garda Dog Unit.
Judge Martin Nolan noted that "hardened criminals could go through their entire career and not commit this number of serious offences".
The judge said is was an “incredible litany of frightening crimes” and that “people had every right to believe they would be killed”. He noted that “thankfully” nobody was seriously injured, apart from a head laceration one man sustained when Rafferty broke into his home to get his car keys.
Rafferty, of Brookview Lawns, Tallaght, pleaded guilty to aggravated burglary at Watergate Estate, Tallaght and assaulting the homeowner on a date in October 2017.
He pleaded guilty to criminal damage, two counts of carjacking, three of possessing a sub-machine gun, unlawful possession of 9mm Luger ammunition and reckless endangerment in locations in the city on the same date.
He also pleaded guilty to stealing a vehicle from Carroll and Roche Subaru dealership, Newlands Cross, Clondalkin.
During the sentence hearing, Chief Supt Sutton said Rafferty told his father-in-law in the weeks before his rampage that he had a gun, but this was disregarded as “nonsense”.
The chief superintendent said a Brookview Lawns neighbour rang gardaí just after 6am on October 23th, after hearing Rafferty order his wife back inside their home and seeing him take off in a car.
Rafferty alighted this Audi vehicle when he crashed it into a van outside Russell Estate in Tallaght. A woman who saw the collision told gardaíshe was “scared for her life” when she saw Rafferty get out of his car and run off carrying a “one and a half foot” gun.
Rafferty next forced a Ford Transit van owner to drive him a two kilometre distance in Tallaght. He then ordered the van driver out of the vehicle and to leave the keys. This victim told gardaíthe gun had been pointed at his head the entire journey.
Rafferty abandoned the Ford Transit about 6.45am and rang the doorbell of a Watergate Estate house, also in Tallaght. He smashed in the glass porch of this residence, hit the home owner over the head with the gun and threatened the man and his family until he was given car keys.
Chief Supt Sutton told Cathleen Noctor, prosecuting, that the daughter and grandchild of this victim, a man in his 50s, had locked themselves into an upstairs bedroom at the time.
The next incident happened about 1.40pm when Rafferty entered Auto Trade Naas Road, Dublin, and demanded a car from the business owner. The court heard that at this point Garda helicopters were in the air and one came down very low overhead.
The business owner, who recognised Rafferty from a previous car sale, gave him the key to a Volvo without question when he saw the gun.
Pointed the gun
Ten minutes later and half a kilometre away, Rafferty pointed the gun at the owner of Carroll and Roche dealership and took a Subaru Impreza car.
Chief Supt Sutton said CCTV footage showed Rafferty getting into difficulty with the Subaru around The Square shopping centre in Tallaght. He then seized a Mercedes vehicle at gunpoint in the centre’s car park.
Gardaí pursued Rafferty in the Mercedes in a dangerous high speed chase, during which he crashed into one vehicle and narrowly missed other traffic.
He abandoned the Mercedes at CityWest Shopping Centre and discarded the gun before entering that building.
Gardaí decided to evacuate the shopping centre and Rafferty was arrested coming out with other members of the public. The court heard the loaded 9mm submachine gun was made safe at the scene.
Rafferty was initially unfit for interview but later described feeling “possessed” after taking heroin and cocaine. He said he thought a friend had been having an affair with his wife and that he heard voices in his head.
He claimed he had little recollection of his rampage but apologised for putting his victims “through all that torture”.
Chief Supt Sutton agreed with Giollaíosa Ó Lideadha SC, defending, that Rafferty had reached “the level of being delusional” with his cocaine consumption on that date. He further accepted Rafferty had entered an early guilty plea and has continued family support.
Mr Ó Lideadha submitted to Judge Nolan that his client had been “taken over by an all consuming delusional and irrational jealousy” and was ashamed and remorseful for his actions.
Counsel handed in testimonials and a letter of apology in which Rafferty apologised for “the damage, fear and hurt” caused to all of the people involved. He asked the judge to leave him some light at the end of the tunnel.
Judge Nolan said the headline sentence in the matter would have been 14 years, but he was reducing this to nine years taking into consideration Rafferty’s guilty pleas and remorse.
The father-of-four has 34 previous convictions, and has received lengthy sentences here and in the UK for robbery and burglaries. He got an eight year jail term in 2010 with the final four suspended for robbery.