Saturday 22 July 2017

Man charged with holding family - including 10-week-old baby - hostage and stealing over €660k from post office

The post office on West St, Drogheda Photo: Google maps
The post office on West St, Drogheda Photo: Google maps

Sonya McLean

A man has gone on trial charged with kidnapping a post office worker, his partner and their young baby before robbing over €600,000 from the man's workplace.

It is the State's case that Jonathan Gill (35) was one of a gang of five who together were involved in holding the family hostage in their own home before moving them to a shed about a 90 minute drive away. The couple were threatened with what they believed to be guns and were tied up with cable ties.

Mr Gill of Malahide Road, Swords, Dublin has pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to falsely imprisoning Warren Nawn, Jean Marie Matthews and their 10-week-old baby in Drogheda, County Louth between August 1 and August 2, 2011.

He has also pleaded not guilty to the robbery of €661,125 at An Post, West Street, Drogheda on August 2, 2011.

Vincent Heneghan SC, prosecuting, told the jury it would hear evidence that Mr Nawn and Ms Matthews were watching television while their baby girl was asleep beside them when there was a knock to the door.

Mr Nawn answered and a man with a scarf on his face threw a pizza box at him before tackling him to the ground. A second man then raided their home and duct tape was put on Mr Nawn's mouth and eyes before he was placed in cable ties.

The men quizzed Mr Nawn about his work place and the staff there while threatening him with what appeared to be a gun. Ms Matthews was threatened in a similar way and told she would have a bullet in the back of her head.

The couple were separated with one of them being taken into the kitchen while the other was left in the sitting room. They were detained there for about two hours before Mr Nawn was put into the boot of his own car and Ms Matthews and the baby placed in the front.

The family were driven for about 90 minutes before they were placed in a shed.

Mr Heneghan said it is expected the jury will hear evidence that the couple were continually threatened in an aggressive way and had guns pointed at them.

At 3.30am the baby became very upset because she needed to be fed. A litre of milk was eventually bought for her and the family were kept in the location until around 9am the following morning.

Mr Nawn was then handed his An Post uniform that the raiders had taken from his home. He was handed a phone and told to drive to work. He had earlier been told to call his immediate boss to inform him he would be late for work.

“He followed their instructions because he was put in fear,” Mr Heneghan told the jury.

He said Mr Nawn met with his boss and told him that his partner and child had been kept and were being told they would be shot. He was instructed to get whatever cash there was in the post office at the time.

Mr Heneghan said a cash drop was due at the post office and 15 minutes later that money was delivered.

The raiders spoke to Mr Nawn's boss and Ms Matthews was also instructed to call the man and tell him a gun was being held to her head. She said she had her baby with her.

Mr Heneghan said Mr Nawn was then instructed to take the cash and deliver it to a specific location. He was then told to drive on further, break up the phone the raiders had given him and throw it into the River Boyne.

The jury heard that there would be evidence that Mr Nawn's boss was told not to do anything for 30 minutes after Mr Nawn left but he ultimately alerted the gardaí who were there when the complainant returned to the post office.

Mr Heneghan told the jury that in the meantime Ms Matthews had been put in a car and transferred to a remote location in the countryside. She was cable tied to an old bed in a burned out shed and left there with her baby.

She later managed to free herself and made her way to a nearby industrial estate where staff called gardaí. Ms Matthews was taken to hospital were she was treated having been struck two or three times during her kidnapping.

Mr Heneghan told the jury it would also hear evidence about the garda investigation and testimonies from post office staff.

The trial continues before Judge Elma Sheahan and a jury of five women and seven men. It is expected to last four weeks.

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