Kidnapping ended in shoot-out after 23 days of captivity for Tidey

Don Tidey was taking his 13year-old daughter, Susan, to school on the morning of November 24th, 1983, when he stopped at what…

Don Tidey was taking his 13year-old daughter, Susan, to school on the morning of November 24th, 1983, when he stopped at what appeared to be a Garda checkpoint near his Dublin home.

Two cars were drawn up at the side of the road at the junction between Stocking Lane and Woodtown Way in Rathfarnham. One of the cars had a blue flashing light on the roof. Mr Tidey was flagged down by a man in what appeared to be a Garda uniform.

The man put a handgun to Mr Tidey's head. Another man pulled Susan Tidey out of her father's car and a third man went to the car behind which was being driven by Mr Tidey's son, Alistair.

Both Alistair and Susan Tidey were thrown to one side of the road. Mr Tidey was put in the back of one of the kidnappers' cars face down and was struck on the head with a weapon. Someone sat on him, cracking one of his ribs.


The kidnappers drove their two cars and Mr Tidey's Daimler car towards the Dublin Mountains. The men abandoned the Daimler after its tyre was punctured. Their two cars were found abandoned in Maynooth. One of them, a stolen Ford Escort, was burnt out but the other, a Ford Cortina, was intact.

Four days after the kidnapping two men and a woman were questioned in Tralee, Co Kerry. All three were released without charge.

On November 30th, William Kelly from Caherina, Tralee, was charged with falsely imprisoning Don Tidey and remanded in custody.

On the same day the security manager of Quinnsworth left Whitehall Garda station after spending more than 12 hours there. He had been planning to board a chartered plane at Dublin Airport and it was believed that attempts were being made to negotiate with the kidnappers.

Four days after the kidnapping a colour photograph of Mr Tidey holding an evening newspaper arrived at the headquarters of Associated British Foods (ABF), Quinnsworth's parent company. It followed a phone call to ABF from a man claiming to be an IRA member demanding a ransom of £5 million sterling.

However, the ABF chairman, Mr Garry Weston, announced that the company would not pay a ransom, in line with British and Irish government policy.

On December 14th the hunt for Mr Tidey switched to Co Leitrim, with almost 100 gardai moving into the area, backed up by Army trucks from the 58th battalion based in Finner Camp, Co Donegal. On December 16th, after 23 days in captivity, Don Tidey was rescued in the joint Army-Garda operation in Ballinamore, Co Leitrim. He was found in a dugout with four armed men in a wooded area. Trainee Garda Garry Sheehan (23), of Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, and Private Patrick Kelly (35), of Moate, Co Westmeath, were killed in the shoot-out.

The gunmen escaped after the rescue and six men who were arrested in connection with the kidnapping were later released.

Three weeks before the kidnapping, five men had been sentenced to jail terms of up to 14 years for their part in a shoot-out outside the Irish home of the Canadian millionaire, Mr Galen Weston, a brother of the ABF boss.

The five men were among a gang of eight men who were ambushed by waiting gardai after they came into the courtyard of the Weston home at Roundwood, Co Wicklow, carrying guns. Three of the men escaped, and gardai believed that they may have used their abduction plans for Weston in the Tidey kidnapping.

Mr John Curnan (59), a farmer, of Dromcroman, Co Leitrim, who owned the wood where Mr Tidey was found, was convicted of falsely imprisoning him and sentenced to seven years, with the last five years suspended because of ill health.

A painter and decorator, Mr William Kelly (41), of Tralee, Co Kerry, received a three-year sentence for his part in the kidnapping. Mr Justice Hamilton said he had aided the kidnappers by hiring a car used in the crime.

A former soldier was jailed for 12 years for his part in the kidnapping. Mr Michael Burke (28), of Ardcullen, Hollyhill, Cork, was identified by a neighbour of Mr Tidey as the bogus garda at the false checkpoint.