Man who held family hostage with gun was on jail release

 

A man who held a woman and her two children hostage with a pellet gun yesterday was on temporary release from Mountjoy Prison.

The Irish Prison Service confirmed that the man, aged 27, from Newbridge, Co Kildare, was in the final weeks of a 1996 five-year sentence for armed robberies. He had been released for rehabilitative purposes.

The 7 1/2-hour ordeal at the house at Maryville Estate, Kildare, ended at 8.55 a.m. when the man threw a pellet gun out and then emerged with his hands up.

He burst into the house at 1.30 a.m. He was trying to escape from gardai who were chasing him after he had pointed the gun at them outside Terry's Pub in Kildare minutes earlier, when they were called to a dispute.

During the chase through the estate gardai fired two warning shots into the air.

The man locked himself into the house and took Ms Jane Muldoon and her children, Alan (5) and Chloe (6), hostage. He kept Ms Muldoon in the front bedroom, while the children remained undisturbed in a rear bedroom.

Mr Patrick Halloran, who lived in the house and was known to the intruder, was not held hostage. He acted as a go-between, moving between Garda negotiators and the kidnapper.

Armed gardai, including members of the Emergency Response Unit, surrounded the house and a two-hour stand-off ensued. Then gardai passed a mobile phone in and negotiations began, conducted by two trained negotiators, Det Garda Jim Crudden and Sgt Joe Ellis.

The gunman is believed to have been using drugs. At one stage he demanded, and was given, a quantity of Physeptone, a maintenance drug for people with an opiate dependence. He had been "agitated and excited" during the night, according to Supt John Flemming, who took charge of the Garda operation.

The man made no demands during the siege. "He did not seem to know what he was looking for during the night," the superintendent said. The man knew Ms Muldoon and had had a row with her earlier that evening in a pub.

Just before 6 a.m. the man released the two children, who were then cared for by their father, a student in Dublin, and their grandparents, Doris and Jim Muldoon, who live nearby.

At 8.55 a.m. the front door opened and the gun was thrown out. Mr Halloran emerged, followed by the man wearing a black balaclava and a white and black jacket. He was arrested under Section 30 of the Criminal Justice Act and brought to Newbridge Garda station.

Supt Flemming said the hostages had not been injured and the gunman had not been abusive. If the family needed counselling it would be provided. The kidnapper had apologised to the family, he added.

Ms Muldoon was being comforted by her family last night. She was visited by the local parish priest, Father Adrian Carbery, who said she was well. "She just needs rest," he said.

Residents in Maryville Estate were also coming to terms with the kidnapping. One woman said they were terrified. They heard the two gunshots and were phoned by family members trying to get home who had been told that gardai had closed off access to the estate.

"I looked out the window and saw two gardai walking backwards down the street with their guns drawn, and another garda lying in front of the [Muldoon] house," she said.

Meanwhile, the man's father appealed for psychiatric help for his son. "The longer they lock him up, the worse he is going to get. Drink is his problem," he said.