Man who fired shots during Dublin post office raid jailed for 10 years
Woman at post office counter said the man put his hand around her neck and held a gun to her temple
Garda forensic team enter the Woodbine Park Post Office after shots were fired. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times
A man who fired eight shots from a semi-automatic pistol as he raided a Dublin post office has been sentenced to ten years imprisonment.
Counsel for the accused said his client had “no memory” of carrying out the raid as he was “out of control” on drugs at the time.
Judge Melanie Greally sentenced him for possessing the Makarov pistol on Friday.
She said the unlawful possession of a firearm merited a headline sentence of 13 and a half years. She gave Kavanagh credit for his guilty plea, his assistance to the investigation, as well as the link between the offending and his use of heroin and crack cocaine. She noted letters from his siblings outlining that he had been exposed to violence and criminality from an early age.
She took into account his recent efforts at rehabilitation and the content of reports before the court before imposing a 10 year jail term on the firearms charge, which she backdated to January 2018.
At an earlier hearing, Sergeant Trevor Hayes told Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL, prosecuting, that a woman had been buying a dog licence at the post office at the time of the raid.
The woman later told gardaí that while she was at the counter, a man wearing a white face mask came in with a gun. He put one hand around her neck and held a gun to her temple with the other hand, saying “give me the money”.
She told gardaí she then heard a number of shots being fired and saw the glass shattering between the counter and the public area, before the raider tried to climb over the counter.
The court heard that an ESB repair man who had been working outside with colleagues had seen a masked man on a bicycle approaching and entering the post office and, thinking it suspicious, followed him in.
This man told gardaí he saw “legs going over the counter” so he grabbed the raider and pulled him back into the public area, marking the beginning of an “aggressive struggle” between them.
The repairman said he got a fright when he heard a shot go off as he hadn’t realised the raider had a gun. He said he felt in fear of his life but decided his best option was to continue to try and contain the man.
Both men eventually fell outside the door of the post office and the repairman kicked the raider on the ankle, causing the gun to fly out of his hand and hit an ESB colleague on the head.
This man later required stitches to his head. The raider made his escape but was later identified on CCTV by gardaí. €455 was stolen from the post office during the raid.
Gardaí recovered the 9mm-calibre semi-automatic Makarov pistol and eight discarded cartridges.
Sgt Hayes said the gun’s original barrel had been replaced, the serial number deliberately effaced and the muzzle adapted to accommodate a silencer.
Kavanagh’s DNA was found on a Supervalu bag he had been carrying and also in a bloodstain on the street outside.
He had 46 previous convictions. In 2011 he was convicted for the robbery of a jewellers’ shop and the possession of a loaded, sawn-off shotgun, for which he was sentenced to eight years with three suspended.
The court heard that none of the witnesses at the post office raid wished to make a victim impact statement as they “wanted to get on with their lives”.
Sgt Hayes agreed with Seán Gillane SC, defending, that Kavanagh had a long standing, deep-seated chronic drug problem to heroin and crack cocaine.
Mr Gillane said Kavanagh had had a difficult childhood due to his father’s alcoholism and had become addicted to drugs in his teens.
Judge Greally adjourned sentencing on the robbery charge to July 31, pending the preparation of a probation report.