Armed raider opened fire on gardai
Gunman ignored warning to drop weapon
Published 16/05/2009 | 00:00
AN armed raider, who died after being shot by gardai during a robbery yesterday, had fired a sawn-off shotgun seconds earlier.
Gardai fired five shots after the raider ignored a warning to drop his weapon and confronted the detectives.
The dead man was named last night as 27-year-old Gareth Molloy, of Lower Sheriff Street, in Dublin's north inner city.
An accomplice was also seriously wounded in the confrontation and later underwent emergency surgery in hospital.
They were both members of a gang led by a notorious criminal, who is suspected of masterminding a series of armed raids on cash-in-transit hauls over the past 18 months.
The gang had been targeted in recent months by detectives from the Organised Crime Unit, as part of Operation Delivery, which was set up to counter the spate of robberies.
Molloy and his accomplice, also in his 20s and from the Mariner's Court area of the north inner city, were shot after he had ignored a warning by the gardai to drop the shotgun.
They had been taking part in the hold-up of staff of a Group Four Securicor (G4S) van delivering cash to an ATM machine at the Centra supermarket in Foxborough Road in Lucan, west Dublin, shortly after noon.
Gardai had received intelligence that the gang intended to hold up a security van yesterday morning, but did not know the exact location of the planned strike. Following the shooting officers recovered the sawn-off shotgun and also seized three cars, which they believed were being used by the gang.
The man suspected of organising the failed heist was arrested after gardai chased his stolen Golf GTI and intercepted him when the cars collided at a roundabout on the Neilstown Road. The alleged gang leader is originally from the north inner city, but is currently living in Rush in county Dublin.
He is related to a former senior gangland figure, who had been linked to major robberies in the past and was a target for the Criminal Assets Bureau.
He is suspected of organising a number of similar raids on vans delivering cash to ATMs, including robberies in Clontarf, Sutton, Cloghran, East Wall, Leixlip and Lucan, since the beginning of last year.
He has been questioned about several of the raids as well as being suspected of links to other major crimes in various parts of the capital
Two other men in their 20s, from Foxdene in Ronanstown, west Dublin, were arrested nearby when they abandoned a Ford Mondeo car and attempted to escape on foot.
A third car, an Astra, was found by gardai, parked near the supermarket and was also thought to have been connected to the gang.
A sixth suspect was later detained by the investigation team. The four uninjured men were being held for questioning last night and can be held without charge for up to 72 hours.
The Garda Ombudsman Commission was notified of the incident and began an immediate investigation. By law, the commission must examine any incident where firearms are discharged by gardai.
Last night senior garda investigators met members of the Ombudsman's team and promised them full co-operation with their inquiries.
Molloy was described last night as a former small-time criminal, who had been recruited by the gang leader to take part in some of his planned heists because regular associates were not available.
He was sentenced to six years imprisonment at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in July 2003 after being convicted of one charge of reckless endangerment, two of malicious damage and two of dangerous driving.
The jury heard that gardai on plainclothes duty in Seville Place saw a Honda car being driven at speed on the wrong side of the road while overtaking traffic.
His wounded associate, who was last night in a serious condition at James Connolly memorial hospital in Blanchardstown, was also described as a suspected small-time criminal.
In the midday incident two G4S staff had emerged from the van outside the Centra supermarket and were about to collect a bag of cash when two raiders, wearing balaclava helmets, attacked them.
They shouted at the security guards to hand over the money and fired a blast from a sawn-off shotgun into the air.
The gardai immediately confronted the two raiders and shouted: "Armed gardai, throw down your weapons".
The man, armed with the shotgun, immediately lowered the weapon and pointed it in the direction of the gardai as he turned to confront them.
The detectives opened fire, seriously injuring the two raiders. Molloy died later in hospital and a post-mortem was being carried out last night by the State Pathologist, Dr Marie Cassidy.
Meanwhile, other undercover cars sped to the scene. Some of them took off in pursuit of the three cars.
Local man Ben Langley (26) said he was in the shop buying phone credit when the shooting took place.
He said : "I heard the bangs. I think there were three of them. It was hard to tell. At first, I thought it must have been kids setting off firecrackers.
"But then I went outside and saw all the gardai and the two injured men on the ground.
"It was pretty shocking stuff. There were a fair few people around, but thankfully no one else was hurt."
Another resident, father-of-four Mark Mooney (33), said it was lucky that children had not been caught up in the gunfire as many were on a half-day break from school.
After a briefing from Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said that while the loss of life was to be regretted, he had no doubt that gardai had the full support of the community in taking whatever action was necessary when confronted by armed gangs.