A judge has said that a family of four who were the victims of a kidnap robbery, deserve enormous respect for their “uncommon and unbending faith” in the criminal justice system.
Judge Melanie Greally made the remarks as she sentenced four men to a total of 53 years for their roles in the cash-in-transit van robbery in which more than €2 million was taken.
Mark Farrelly (47), Christopher Corcoran (71), David Byrne (45) and Niall Byrne (36) were convicted in May by a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court. This trial, which began in January, was the fifth time the case had gone to court.
The trial heard the gang forced Securicor employee Paul Richardson to go to work while his wife Marie and two teenage sons were held at gunpoint in the Dublin mountains until he had delivered the cash to a car park.
Judge Greally said the raiders “burst” into the Richardson’s home on “a normal Sunday evening” using different items to conceal their identities.
“It is clear to me that this normal and happy family had their lives upended by the actions of the accused. All sense of normality, security and joy was replaced by fear, anxiety, anger and frustration.”
The judge said the number of trials the family had to endure over the matter had made their recovery “excessively difficult” and that “their uncommon and unbending faith in the criminal justice system is worth enormous respect”.
It was “a fortuitous twist of faith that secured the family’s freedom”, the judge said, after a small knife was discovered on one of the boy’s keyrings, enabling them to break the cable ties that bound them together in the remote location where they had been left by the gang.
Judge Greally sentenced former Securicor worker Niall Byrne, of Crumlin Road Flats, Dublin, to 10 years. He was considered the "inside man" in the gang and was convicted of conspiracy to rob. The jury was unable to reach a majority verdict in relation to a charge of kidnapping against him.
The jury convicted Mark Farrelly, Christopher Corcoran and David Byrne of robbery and false imprisonment of the Richardsons.
Farrelly, who was considered the mastermind of the gang, was sentenced to 17½ years. His phone was used to co-ordinate the movements of the various gang members.
Judge Greally said Farrelly, of Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock, held a very senior position in the gang but took into account his lack of serious convictions, his family circumstances and "favourable letters" handed in on his behalf. She gave him credit for time he has already served in prison.
Corcoran, of Rosedale, Raheny, who was a "scout" during the kidnapping, driving ahead of the van to make sure nobody interrupted the process of the kidnap, was sentenced to 12 years. Judge Greally said she was suspending the final five years having taken into account Corcoran's age and very poor state of health.
David Byrne, of Old Brazil Way, Knocksedan, Swords, who was one of the two men who was in the jeep that brought the Richardsons to the mountains, was sentenced to 13½ years.
The four accused had all pleaded not guilty to robbing Mr Richardson and Securicor of €2.08 million on March 14th, 2005 and to the false imprisonment of the Richardson family at their home in Raheny on March 13th and 14th, 2005.
Paul Richardson, in his victim impact statement, described the crime as “heinous and inhumane” and said it was committed for “one reason only, greed”.
He said he spent his 60th birthday in court, having just given his sworn testimony for the fifth time. He said he could not leave the court after giving his evidence because he promised his family “I would keep going until justice prevailed”.
Mr Richardson said the raiders had “no regard for the damage they caused” and said they never contacted him by walkie-talkie, as they had promised, to tell him his family was safe.
Marie, Ian and Kevin Richardson also described in victim impact statements, read to the court by Seamus Clarke SC, how the kidnapping affected their lives.
Ms Richardson said the home they had made “for ourselves and our boys” was destroyed that night. She said she had go back to work full-time as her husband struggled and was unable to go back to work for three years.
Kevin Richardson, who was 13 when the incident happened, said that for the last 13 years that night had followed him “like the plague” and that he would wake up shouting in his sleep.
Ian Richardson’s said the look of fear in the eyes of his father, mother and brother would never leave him. He said his schooling suffered, as did his relationships with his family and friends.
“The image of a gun being put to me will never leave me,” he said, adding that having to give evidence five times was like “opening a wound over and over and salt being rubbed in it”.