Gang had planned kidnapping of family right down to the tiniest of details


BACKGROUND:The criminals behind the tiger robbery around the Richardson family executed their plan with military efficiency, writes CONOR LALLY, Crime Correspondent

THREE RAIDERS called to the Richardson family home at Ashcroft, Raheny, north Dublin, at 10pm on Sunday, March 13th, 2005.

When Marie Richardson answered the doorbell, she was grabbed and pushed back into the hallway. Two more raiders coolly walked into the house as Mrs Richardson was held down.

Once inside, one of the men took a machine gun from a cardboard box he was carrying. The others had handguns.

Paul Richardson later returned to his home and he too was threatened at gunpoint and thrown into the sitting room with his wife and sons, Ian (17) and Kevin (13).

His wife said to him: “There’s no heroes here . . . just do what they want.”

One of the armed men assured Mrs Richardson: “Everything will be okay. Your husband knows what to do.” One of the gang used a pillow case as a makeshift balaclava, and later used one of the children’s school jumpers for the same purpose.

The gang sat the family on a sofa, pointed guns at their heads and took Polaroid pictures of them.

At about 2am, Mrs Richardson and her two sons were taken from the house in an Isuzu Trooper, which was parked outside and carried two more gang members. The mother and sons were told to crouch down on the floor and they had a duvet thrown over them.

They were then driven across the city, finally arriving at Cloon Wood near Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, at about 2.30am, and held at gunpoint overnight.

The gang had already been there earlier and had tied markers to the trees to guide them into the woods in the dark. They also had radio scanners tuned into the Garda frequency.

Paul Richardson spent the night with the other raiders at his Raheny home. In the morning, he was told by the gang to report for work as usual at Securicor’s cash depot in Rialto, southwest Dublin.

Once he and his two colleagues had left the depot to begin their cash deliveries, he explained what was happening, showing his co-workers the Polaroids of himself and his family being held at gunpoint.

He was then given instructions by one gang member via a mobile phone to take the van to the Angler’s Rest pub at Strawberry Beds, near Phoenix Park.

They were ordered to leave the van’s €2.28 million transit cargo in bags in the pub car park and drive away towards Kinnegad, giving the gang time to move in and collect the cash before the alarm was raised.

Once the pick-up was complete, Mrs Richardson and her sons were abandoned at Cloon Woods, their hands and feet bound with cable ties.

Before leaving them, the two gang members told them to wait for a while and then free themselves and to seek help in a nearby house.

Mr Richardson told gardaí the gang knew Securicor’s procedures well. They knew his usual crew members, the registration of the van he normally drove and the route he had taken the previous day. One of them had a Securicor walkie-talkie.

The Circuit Criminal Court heard that one of the men on trial for the robbery, Niall Byrne, was a former Securicor employee. He was the gang’s alleged “inside man”.

He took 12 days of sick leave from the day of the heist and then left the company. The court heard that Byrne, whose two brothers are prison officers, had been carrying €10,000 which he said was to buy a car, in a plastic bag, shortly after the so-called “tiger” raid.

“Tiger” robberies are described as such because of the similarity between the way in which gangs follow their targets in advance of raids and the way tigers stalk their prey.

Jason Kavanagh’s DNA was found on a pillow case at the Richardson’s family home.

When gardaí searched Mark Farrelly’s home, they found 1,000 cable ties like those used to tie up the Richardsons. Five mobile phones and spare SIM cards were also found.

Evidence was produced in court of heavy telephone traffic during the kidnapping between phones linked to some of the men. Two of the phones were never used after the robbery. There was also CCTV footage, alleged to be of some of the men, near the crime scenes.

Christopher Corcoran, a retired Eircom worker, admitted lodging €7,000 to his bank account after the robbery, but said the money was dividends from Eircom shares.

He claimed he was at home drinking when the raid took place, that he knew nothing about guns and kept thinking his arrest was “a joke”.