Man convicted of kidnap and robbery of Dublin postmistress

Paschal Kelly pleaded not guilty to robbing Bayside Post Office and threatening to kill three women

A man has been convicted at the Circuit Criminal Court over a €90,000 tiger kidnapping four years ago in which a postmistress, her daughter and a visiting student were abducted. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

A man has been convicted at the Circuit Criminal Court over a €90,000 tiger kidnapping four years ago in which a postmistress, her daughter and a visiting student were abducted. File photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

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A man has been convicted over a €90,000 tiger kidnapping four years ago in which a postmistress, her daughter and a visiting student were abducted from their home in an incident one of the women said “felt like a horror movie”.

Paschal Kelly (53), of Cootehill, Co Cavan, had pleaded not guilty at the Circuit Criminal Court to trespass and to false imprisonment of postmistress Susan Lawlor, her daughter Emma Carter and Italian student Gabriella Saisa at Seabury Drive, Malahide, Dublin, on September 25th, 2014.

Kelly had also pleaded not guilty to robbing Ms Lawlor of money at Bayside Post Office in Dublin, and threatening to kill her, Ms Carter and Ms Saisa at an unknown location. He had also denied unlawful possession of a vehicle, all on the same date.

The jury of seven men and five women returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all charges after one hour and 40 minutes deliberating.

The trial was originally scheduled to last six weeks, but extended into a ninth week due to legal argument in the absence of the jury. Judge Karen O’Connor thanked the jurors for their “extraordinary service” and commitment. She excused them from jury service for life.

Kelly has been remanded in custody ahead of sentencing in January. The judge directed victim impact statements be prepared for the three injured parties.

Masked

During the trial Ms Lawlor, Ms Carter and Ms Saisa described being abducted by two masked and armed intruders in the early hours of the morning and driven to various locations before the post office raid.

The two men broke into the home, tied the women’s hands with cable ties and bundled them all into Ms Lawlor’s Nissan Qushqai. They were later joined by a third raider at a field in an unknown location.

On the way to this field, Ms Lawlor told the jury her phone rang in her handbag. She said the driver “freaked” and asked ‘Who the fuck is ringing you at this hour of the morning?’

She said that this raider, who she called ‘Number 1’, had initially come into her room after breaking in and had demanded to know if she had made a call. She denied doing so but told the jury that she had managed to ring a special ‘tiger raid hotline number’ issued by An Post when she heard her daughter screaming in the house.

After her phone rang in the car, her daughter tried to calm the situation by suggesting it was one of the neighbours.

“I feared for my life because the Number 1 guy kept saying he was going to shoot me if I’d made the call,” Ms Lawlor testified.

Ms Carter said it had “felt like a horror movie” upon seeing two intruders in her home but that she “knew it would be ok” once she realised it was a tiger kidnapping, if the raiders got their money.

Ms Saisa, who had been staying with Ms Lawlor while she learned English, said she had felt nauseous on the car journey to one destination and thought the men were going to kill her. She said at one point she heard them say they had “no choice” but to do what they were doing.

Ms Lawlor said raider ‘Number 1’ beat and threatened her when she told them the post office safe was on a timer. She said they drove her alone to her workplace hours later and robbed the cash.

Spat

She described how she spat in the backseat of the raiders’ car and plucked one of her hairs on this journey to the post office. She told the court: “If I died, I wanted gardaí­to know I’d been in the car”.

She said once she got to the post office, ‘Number 2’ brought her inside while ‘Number 1’ waited in the car.

She said ‘Number 3’ joined them in the post office and he brought the other two women inside. She said she heard ‘Number 2’ on the phone to’ Number 1’, assuring him the women were “tied up face down on the ground with guns to our backs and not to be worrying”.

Ms Lawlor said at 8am the raiders opened the safe and she suggested they use a post bag to empty the money, as she knew it would be linked to the raid.

She said as soon as the men left her and the other women, she hit the panic button and phoned gardaí­.

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