Five-man gang escape with €1.2m after family kidnapping


GARDAÍ ARE searching for a five-man armed gang who escaped with €1.2 million in cash after a robbery involving hostage-taking.

All five raiders were armed with handguns in what Garda sources last night described as a "very professional" kidnap and robbery

The Irish Times understands gardaí were made aware the robbery was under way and put a major reactive policing operation in place.

However the gang, believed to be Dublin-based, evaded capture.

The elaborate hostage-taking operation began just after midnight yesterday when the gang broke into the home of Peter Nevin, a director of cash-in-transit firm GSLS, just off the Maynooth to Celbridge road in Co Kildare.

After they forced their way into the house on Obelisk Lane, a secluded side road leading to Leixlip, the men woke Mr Nevin and his wife Anne, who are both middle-aged, and their adult daughter Annie, who is in her 20s. The threatened the Nevins with their guns.

Mrs Nevin and her daughter were taken from the house by some of the gang.

They were driven to Grangecon near Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, where they were held in a 4X4 vehicle during the night.

Mr Nevin was held hostage at his home overnight.

Yesterday morning he was given a mobile phone by the gang and told to drive to his place of work, take money from the premises and await further instructions in relation to a drop-off point for the money.

He was told his wife and daughter would be harmed if he did not follow the gang's instructions directly. However, while the Nevins were threatened with violence, gardaí said the gang were "professional and very calm".

Mr Nevin went to the GSLS premises at Carriglea Industrial Estate, Naas Road, Dublin 12, and took some €1.2 million from the security depot.

He received instructions by phone to drive to a location near Athgoe, Co Kildare, where the money was handed over on the side of the road to some of the gang who were waiting in a car.

The other gang members holding the women near Baltinglass left their hostages in the vehicle. Gardaí are not clear how those men escaped.

Gardaí received a tip-off from GSLS before the money was handed over as the raid was under way. However, the Garda's efforts to catch the gang were frustrated by the fact that they did not know where the money was to be dropped off.

Mr Nevin was given a number of instructions to drive towards certain areas before being told of the specific drop-off location when he was just a short distance away.

Gardaí also had no way of knowing where Mrs Nevin and her daughter were actually being held by the other raiders.

Gardaí have drawn up a short list of Dublin gangs who they believe were behind other major tiger raids in recent years. The movements of those gang members at the time of the latest raid are being investigated.

The 4X4 in which the two women were held has been recovered. The Garda Technical Bureau yesterday examined the car as well as the Nevin family home.

Gardaí were last night trying to locate a Ford Fiesta owned by the Nevins, which was taken by the gang.

Detectives are also trying to trace the movements of a beige coloured, Dublin-registered Renault Laguna which the raiders used when collecting the money near Athgoe. They believe the car was in the Rathcoole area of Co Dublin yesterday morning.

A major investigation has been put in place and is being co-ordinated from Naas Garda station. Local gardaí are being assisted by the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation.