Getaway driver for gang that targeted elderly mass-going couple jailed for 12 years

Gardaí were waiting inside house for thieves after tip-off and driver arrested following car chase that ended in crash

Getaway driver for gang that targeted elderly couple and was  involved in chase that ended in crash jailed for 12 years. File photogrph:  Niall Carson/PA

Getaway driver for gang that targeted elderly couple and was involved in chase that ended in crash jailed for 12 years. File photogrph: Niall Carson/PA

 

A getaway driver who was part of a gang who went to rob the home of an elderly couple while they attended mass, only to find gardaí lying in wait for them inside the property has been jailed for twelve years.

John Faulkner (38) of Adelaide Place, St Luke’s in Cork city had been on trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court this week in connection with the incident which took place at the home of a couple in their eighties in Freemont, Charleville, Co Cork on the October 19th, 2019.

The trial heard that with the permission of the homeowner , six gardaí were waiting inside the house with a further two gardaí outside the property after they received information that a robbery was going to take place.

The State’s case was that during the course of the afternoon of the robbery, a car arrived in the area and two men got out, then went into a field. The court was told that Faulkner was driving the car.

The pensioners left for mass at or just after 5.30pm and the vehicle passed them on the road.

Gardaí then heard noises at the house. One man was found inside while another was just outside the window. Both men were arrested.

Gardaí in an unmarked patrol car subsequently came across the vehicle driven by Faulkner. They followed the car and a chase ensued.

During it, Faulkner drove through Banteer village at a speed of 150km/h before the car veered out of control, skidded on the side of the road and crashed in to an unmarked Garda car.

Faulkner’s defence team claimed he could have been dropping off men to visit friends and that, because the Garda car was unmarked, he had subsequently thought that he was being targeted by people with whom he is engaged in a feud.

However, the jury unanimously found Faulkner guilty of the theft in addition to charges of dangerous driving and endangerment.

Judge Sean Ó Donnabháin, who disqualified Faulkner from driving for 20 years, said people like Faulkner had forced pensioners in to lockdown long before the pandemic struck.

“They are bringing terror to innocent people. There was meticulous planning and significant determination in this robbery. He (Faulkner) knew his ‘customers.’ Elderly people in remote rural areas. The evidence against him was overwhelming,” said the judge.

Det Supt Vincent O’Sullivan said Faulkner had committed a similar robbery involving pensioners in 2007 when he and one of the men involved in the Freemont robbery had targeted the home of two elderly siblings . Faulkner, who has 19 previous convictions, was jailed for that crime.

The two co-accused who were caught by gardai in the Freemont robbery were each jailed for seven years last year after they entered guilty pleas.