Monday 23 January 2017

Armed robber gets eight-year sentence for cash van raid

Conor Gallagher

Published 22/07/2010 | 05:00

A MAN whose accomplice was shot dead by gardai as the pair tried to rob a cash van was jailed yesterday for eight years.

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Keith Murtagh (25) was shot and seriously wounded by a detective from the Garda Emergency Response Unit during the 16-second incident.

His accomplice, Gareth Molloy (27), was shot dead after he opened fire on the gardai with a shotgun as he held a security guard hostage.

Gardai fired five shots in return, killing Molloy and injuring Murtagh, who later underwent emergency surgery.

Murtagh was arrested after he was discharged from hospital six weeks later.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that another four men had been involved in the planned robbery and they had also been charged.

Judge Katherine Delahunt sentenced Murtagh to 10 years on a charge of attempted robbery and eight years for illegal possession of a firearm, the sentences to run concurrently.

She suspended the final two years of the robbery sentence.

"This crime ranks as about as serious as we get in this court," the judge said.

"There can be no other terror worse for cash van workers than to have to stare down the barrel of a sawn-off shotgun. I have no doubt the fear they felt must have been horrendous," she added.

After the evidence was heard, Murtagh insisted on addressing the court and said the gardai involved were murderers.

Weapon

He said the dead man was a very close friend and they had known each other all their lives. He apologised to the cash van workers and gardai but added: "No one turned around to me and said 'put down the weapon'. I'm casting them as murderers."

After sentence was handed down, Murtagh thanked the judge and shouted at gardai: "I'm still alive, I'm still alive."

Murtagh, of Mariner's Port, Sheriff Street Lower, Dublin, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery and possession of a weapon with intent to endanger life at Foxboro Road, Lucan, on May 15, 2009.

Detective Sergeant Sean Cosgrove told the court that the cash van containing three men was driving through Lucan when they were warned by radio that there was suspicious activity in the area.

They stopped to refill an ATM and Tim McDonald got out to open the machine.

A black car pulled up and two men in balaclavas got out and ran towards him. One grabbed him and pushed him against the van while threatening to shoot him.

A colleague inside the van saw what happened and ejected a cash box containing €40,000. Mr McDonald then heard a single gunshot and was sure he was going to be killed.

He heard gardai call out repeatedly "drop your weapon", followed by several more gunshots. He ran away and initially thought he had been shot.

Det Sgt Cosgrove said gardai had been aware of the raid and several units were standing by, including the Emergency Response Unit. He said Molloy had grabbed Mr McDonald while holding the shotgun.

He said gardai had made themselves known before firing five shots, hitting both raiders, and the whole incident had lasted about 16 seconds.

When Murtagh was discharged from hospital he was arrested but refused to say anything in interview. He has 42 previous convictions, mostly for minor offences.

Irish Independent

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