Monday 25 September 2017

Garda detectives hospitalised after car repeatedly rammed by suspected Post Office raiders

Robbery at the post office in Waterville. Picture: Google Street Vew
Robbery at the post office in Waterville. Picture: Google Street Vew

Cathal McMahon and Tomás Heneghan

Two gardaí are being treated in hospital after their car was "rammed repeatedly" by suspected armed Post Office raiders.

Independent.ie has learned that two men entered Waterville Post Office in Co Kerry at around 11.30am on Wednesday.

The pair, brandishing a firearm, demanded cash before fleeing with just under €5,000.

They abandoned their Ford car in Waterville before transferring to a second vehicle.

The men involved left the area in a small blue car in the direction of Cahersiveen/Killarney.

A garda text alert was sent out across South Kerry and senior officers appeared on local radio appealing for help.

Around 40 minutes after the raid, two garda detectives encountered a 03 D navy blue Mazda car around 50km away in Beaufort.

The suspects rammed the garda vehicle - injuring a male and female officer.

A source explained: “The officers tried to stop the vehicle but their own, unmarked car, was rammed repeatedly by the offending vehicle.

“The female officer managed to get out of her car and the male officer was then able to escape.”

Gardai are investigating
Gardai are investigating

Three warning shots were fired by the detectives and the Mazda fled the scene.

It ultimately crashed in the Beaufort area of Killarney before it was set on fire.

The suspected offenders fled to nearby fields on foot. Gardaí received a huge public reaction and officers were able to track down the suspects who were hiding on farmland.

Two men in their 30s have been arrested and are detained at Killarney and Tralee Garda stations under Section 30 of The Offences Against the State Act, 1939.

Both men are well-known to gardaí.

A third suspect is still being sought. The Regional Support Unit (RSU) from Cork and Limerick as well as Dog Unit are now on scene and major searches are underway.

No cash or firearm has been seized at this point. There are currently five crime scenes being examined by officers.

A spokesman said the incident has been referred to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), as is normal practice in situations where it appears that conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in death or serious harm.

The Garda Ombudsman has confirmed that it will examine the matter to establish the facts in this regard.

Gardaí, led by Superintendent Flor Murphy from Killarney station and new Kerry Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan, are appealing for witnesses to contact them on 064 6671160.

The two gardaí who were in the rammed squad car were brought to hospital where they are being treated for minor injuries. They are awaiting the results of scans.

Chief Supt Cadogan praised the actions of his officers and said members of the public were crucial in the operation.

“We got a tremendous response from the people of South Kerry,” he said. “This is a great example of the community and gardaí working together.”

Emer Duffy, who lives outside Beaufort told Joe Duffy on Liveline that she received a call to say that "men were on the run through the fields.”

“At some point, she’s not sure whether this was in Waterville or whether it was in Beaufort, there was shots fired.”

“There’s been a constant stream of garda cars”, there’s been 4x4 garda jeeps, there’s been two ambulances there in the last 15 minutes actually, just went straight past the door.”

Norma Moriarty, a Fianna Fáil Councillor in Waterville told the RTÉ Radio One show that people were "certainly shocked at today’s events".

"And number one, we’re just thankful that everybody is safe and sound.

“What actually unfolded is that at 11:40 am two men entered the premises and basically were brandishing a weapon, which naturally they took to be real, you’re not going to take any chances in those circumstances, and basically wanted to break into the safe."

She explained that a cash delivery had just been made and the raiders grabbed the handle of the safe.

"They broke it. They weren’t able to access that and then they proceeded and took whatever they could. Several parcels were taken as well, that would have just been part of normal post. They were subsequently discarded during their getaway drive.”

“They drove off at speed and the area where the post office is in Waterville is actually quite a tight corner, in terms of driving and they took off towards what we call the Cliff Road. And one of the tour buses was actually just coming down the road and actually quite narrowly missed them.”

“I’m guessing, I don’t know, but I’m guessing if they got to Beaufort in a short space of time that they would have gone over what we call the Blocasheen Road. A lot of people who would cycle around the area would know it quite well.”

Mullinavat Post Office.jpg
Mullinavat Post Office. Picture: Google Maps

KILKENNY

Meanwhile Gardaí in Kilkenny are investigating a separate Post Office raid in Mullinavat at approximately 12 midday.

A lone raider, a man in his mid 20s, entered the shop with what was believed to be a firearm and left the scene with a sum on money.

He was arrested by gardaí a short distance away and brought to Thomastown Garda Station where he is detained under Section 30 Offences against the State Act. A sum of money was recovered.

Gardaí are appealing for witness to contact Mullinavat Station on 051898122, The Garda Confidential Telephone Line 1800 666 111 or any Garda Station.

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