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Saturday 22 July 2017

Family left traumatised after €230,000 tiger raid

Michael McHugh and Victoria O'Hara

THE PSNI was unaware of the North's latest tiger kidnapping until it was alerted by gardai when the kidnapped partner and son of a security van driver were found in the Republic, 24 hours after they had been seized.

Up to 10 men were involved in the operation, in which the driver of a security van was kidnapped. The man's partner and 16-year-old son were held hostage by the gang until gardai found them locked in a shed in Mullyash, Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, with pillow cases over their heads.

The nightmare for the family began at 6pm on Wednesday, when two masked and armed men forced their way into the driver's home in the Geeling Grove area of Dunmurray, west Belfast.

The partner and son of the Brinks Mat employee were abducted and taken in a white Transit van to Co Monaghan, where they were held hostage.

The gang issued very concise instructions to the man and stayed for no more then an hour in his house. They told him that he was to work as normal before meeting the gang at a specific location to hand over the ransom of £200,000 (€230,000).

It was made very clear to all three victims that their lives would be in danger if the instructions were not followed.

The criminals clearly knew that the man would have access to hundreds of thousands of pounds doing his daily job.

He subsequently made his way to the meeting point in the Raceview industrial estate at Muckamore, Co Antrim, and handed over the money.

Brinks Mat collects and delivers large sums of cash to banks and other financial institutions in Northern Ireland.

The two captives were fed and later locked in the shed in Monaghan. The kidnappers then burned the van that had been used to transport them.

Ordeal

The blaze was spotted by someone in the area who contacted the gardai and the victims were found at around 8pm on Thursday.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Justyn Galloway said: "They (the three victims) were left in no doubt if they did not co-operate and comply with the instructions, their lives would be in danger."

Police in Northern Ireland are following all lines of inquiry and have refused to rule out the involvement of dissident republicans.

The woman and teenager were uninjured but severely traumatised by their ordeal.

DCI Galloway revealed that pillow cases were put over their heads as they were being kidnapped. He said: "We are dealing with a 16-year-old boy and two adults who have had their privacy invaded and the terrifying ordeal of being removed and kept at a location overnight."

Police want to trace two vehicles used by the gang -- a white van that was seen at Teeling Grove on Wednesday and a brown hatchback which was spotted at Muckamore the following day.

Detectives on both sides of the Border are investigating.

DCI Galloway added: "This is the fourth such kidnapping this year. They are rare and police have been very successful over recent years in bringing people to justice and breaking up criminal gangs who have been using this type of activity."

Irish Independent

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