Gang jailed for up to 25 years

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Three men have jailed for carrying out a “tiger kidnapping” in Dublin four years ago.

In sentencing at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Tony Hunt termed the men “inhuman monsters” for kidnapping a cash van driver’s family while he delivered €2.28 million to them.

Mark Farrelly (37), of Moatview Court, Priorswood; and Jason Kavanagh (34), of Parslickstown Court, Ladyswell were jailed for 25 years each. Christopher Corcoran (61), of Bayside Boulevard North - who the judge said was “one league removed from the other men”,-was jailed for 12 years.

The three men had denied robbing €2.28 million from Paul Richardson and Securicor and had also pleaded not guilty to falsely imprisoning members of the Richardson family - Marie Richardson and her sons, Ian (then 17) and Kevin (then 13) - on March 13th and 14th, 2005.

They were found guilty in July following the longest criminal trial in the history of the State which ran to 66 days and heard more than 200 witnesses. The jury could not agree on verdicts for another two accused.

Mrs Richardson and her sons were taken from their home at Ashcroft, Raheny, at gunpoint and held in Cloon Wood near Enniskerry, Co Wicklow, until her husband gave the gang €2.28 million from a Securicor van on which he worked as a crew member.

The maximum sentence for the offence is life imprisonment. Judge Hunt said the raid warranted slightly less but if the men had used their weapons or had been any more violent, he would have had no hesitation in imposing the full term.

He said he based the sentences on eleven factors including the “almost military planning” of the raid and the “violent degradation by the inhuman monsters who forced their way in there that night.”

He also took into account that once the gang had got the money they did not call Mr Richardson as promised to tell him his family were safe.

He said the evidence showed Kavanagh and Farrelly got drunk in a pub instead of having the “simple human thought” of calling Mr Richardson. He also noted the pair took a trip to Spain shortly afterwards which he believed was to move the money offshore.

Judge Hunt said there were very few mitigating factors but he took into account that all the men had families and both Farrelly and Corcoran were in poor health. He said Corcoran had played the lesser role of a “look out” and seemed close to assisting gardai when interviewed.

Judge Hunt paid tribute to the Richardson family for enduring their ordeal and the subsequent trial which was the longest criminal trial in Irish legal history. “These are examples of the best type of people in our society in contrast to the spineless criminals who carried out this crime,” he said.

He congratulated them, particularly Marie Richardson for her “character and bravery” in supporting her family during and after the raid. He also expressed the hope that the family could move past their ordeal but noted Kevin Richardson was clearly a “damaged man.”

“I express the sincere and profound hope that the passage of time will help him get past this. However he is not, and will not be, the same man as he was before March 13th, 2005,” Judge Hunt said.

Judge Hunt commented on the recent spate of tiger kidnappings calling them a “foul and repulsive cancer, “And like any such disease when it is located it must be aggressively treated.”

He said he believed the cash from these robberies is being used as “seed capital” for the importation of large amounts of drugs or guns for criminal gangs. He also noted they did not target the senior bank officials “who maybe be responsible for some of our financial woes”, but ordinary families in their homes.

Outside the court, an emotional Kevin and Marie Richardson urged other victims of “tiger kidnappings” not to give up hope and to have faith in the justice system.

Mr Richardson described the four years since the robbery as “your worst nightmare” and said he hoped they could now try and put it behind them.

“Today we have come to an end of a very long road. At last we feel that justice has been done.”

Addressing other victims, he said: “It is not often that you can say to someone we know how you feel but to all those other tiger kidnap victims we know exactly how you feel and we say, don’t give up on the justice system.”

Ms Richardson added: “Don’t give up hope. It might be a long time but hopefully in the end, with the guards support, they will get the people that did it to them.”

When asked to how she would describe the raiders she said: “These are men who have families themselves. How can you do it to someone else who has a family.”

She described the raid as surreal and said it was like it was not really happening to her. She said the most memorable moment was being in the Garda station and finding out her husband was safe.

Inspector Paul Scott, who led the investigation, also paid tribute to his team and the jury for bringing about the conviction. He said investigations were ongoing in relation to another two suspects who are thought to have fled to the Philippines.

Insp Scott further praised the bravery of the family and urged other tiger kidnap victims to “have heart”. He also warned anyone contemplating carrying out “horrendous crimes of this nature” to be mindful of the severity of the sentences they could face.

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