THREE men whose attempts to rob a post office were foiled by gardai following a six week long investigation have been jailed for a total of ten and a half years.
David Atkinson (43) and his nephew Gerard Carey (35) were caught red-handed on the roof of the post office wearing balaclavas and gloves. They were armed with an imitation firearm, hammer, crow bar, torch and radio scanner which was tuned into garda frequencies.
Atkinson’s son Dwayne Stacey (25) was parked nearby in a blue Renault Scenic along with co-accused Philip Kerfoot (40). They were both arrested by gardai along with the would-be raiders.
Atkinson, Carey and Stacey all with addresses at Windmill Park, Crumlin and Kerfoot of Captain’s Road, also in Crumlin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to conspiring with each other to commit robbery of a Post Office on Lower Drumcondra Road, on October 16, 2009.
The court heard that gardai had all four men under surveillance for six weeks. Officers had gathered such a significant level of intelligence that staff were advised not to come to work that day and the post mistress had supplied gardai in Fitzgibbon Street with the keys to the building.
The sentencing of Kerfoot was adjourned to later this week after Judge Nolan was informed he was admitted to Tallaght Hospital last Friday and was awaiting a chest scan today.
Judge Martin Nolan jailed Atkinson for five years after he accepted that although the man had “a sad early start to life”, he had 38 previous convictions including a nine year jail term for robbery.
He jailed Carey for three years after accepting that he had previously shown an ability to rehabilitate having recently come off drugs.
Carey had 25 previous convictions including one for attempted robbery for which he was sentenced to three years with the final two suspended by Judge Nolan last year.
He also noted that Carey was armed with an imitation gun at the time, which was described as a cigarette lighter which had a striking resemblance to a Smith and Wesson revolver, and was carrying the red bag full of equipment.
Judge Nolan jailed Stacey for two and half years after noting that he was the youngest in the group, was acting as the getaway driver and was “probably there as a result of his father”.
Stacey had District Court convictions for drugs and possession of knives.
Detective Garda Martin O’Riordán told Dominic McGinn SC, prosecuting, that garda units were placed in the general area that morning and officers entered the post office after the expected raid did not take place.
Gardai then noted that a large hole had been drilled into the roof above a suspended ceiling after access was gained to vacant premises directly above the post office. It was then that Carey and Atkinson were spotted coming out of this first floor building wearing balaclavas and gloves.
Carey had the imitation revolver in the waistband of his trousers and was carrying the red bag.
Det Gda O’Riordán said Atkinson, Stacey and Dwyer “exercised their right to silence” in their interviews with gardai following their arrest.
Carey accepted he had the imitation gun and the bag of tools, which he said were electrical tools for his work. He claimed that he didn’t know there was a hole in the roof above the suspended ceiling.
He explained the relationship between himself, Atkinson and Stacey and told gardai Kerfoot was a long standing childhood friend.
Det Gda O’Riordán agreed with a suggestion from Sean Gillane SC, defending Atkinson, that his client had a bad record spanning most of his adult life and has a long standing heroin addiction.
He agreed with Padraig Dwyer SC, defending Carey that his client immediately surrendered when spotted by gardai and had co-operated with the garda investigation.
Fionnuala O’Sullivan BL, defending Stacey told Judge Nolan that Atkinson had not been a major influence in her client’s life as he had spent much of his son’s childhood in prison.
Counsel said Stacey’s mother died in 2008 and he developed a serious drug problem shortly after that.
Mr Gillane said Atkinson expressed remorse and shame that his son was present in court beside him.
“All four corners of the map of his life are represented by offending,” Mr Gillane said before he told the court that Atkinson was first detained as a 12-year-old boy in an industrial school.
Counsel said the redress board could not fix the ultimate damage that had been done to Atkinson as a result of his four year stay there.
Mr Dwyer said Carey “came to criminality late in life” after his relationship with his wife, with whom he has four children, deteriorated and he started to abuse drugs.
Counsel said Carey has not come to garda attention since the offence and said references and reports before the court would prove that he has since dealt with his drug addiction.
“He has radically turned his life around,” Mr Dwyer said. “He can now look forward to a drug and crime free life and can now be a contributor to society.”
Ms O’Sullivan said Stacey’s life spiralled out of control when his mother died the year before his arrest.
She said his partner also suffered two miscarriages around the same time and he started abusing drugs.
He has since rehabilitated and has been on the drug free landing in Cloverhill during his 22 month remand in custody pending sentence.