Furious gardai seek answers from bank over tiger kidnap
Published 23/06/2010 | 05:00
Senior garda officers were furious last night that a breakdown in bank security allowed an armed gang to get away with around €250,000 following a tiger kidnap.
Top managers from Allied Irish Banks are expected to meet gardai as a result of the failure to carry out agreed protocols for tiger robberies.
Last night, Justice Minister Dermot Ahern demanded a report on the robbery from his officials after they had consulted with the gardai.
And Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy was said to be "very unhappy and disappointed" at the security lapse.
Investigators were last night trying to establish how a bank official and another employee managed to gain access to such a large sum of money, stuff it into a sports bag and then drop the cash at a location selected by the kidnappers.
The new protocols seek to limit the accessibility of large sums of cash to the employee, thus reducing their risk of kidnap. Also it is crucial that the gardai are informed as early as possible.
While the bank official was gathering the money, his housemate was being held hostage by members of the armed gang.
Gardai did not find out about the tiger kidnap until after the official had left the bank with the money around midday -- more than three hours after he had turned up for work. The ordeal for the young official and his housemate began around 1.30am yesterday when three masked men, two of them armed with handguns, forced their way into their rented home at Deerpark View, Kiltipper, Tallaght, Co Dublin.
The gang stayed in the house for two hours, then ordered the housemate outside at gunpoint.
He was bundled into the boot of the car and abducted by the gang.
Earlier, one of the gang had supplied the bank official with a sports bag to collect the money and a mobile phone to receive further instructions.
He was told to get the money and await word on where to drop it. The official spent the rest of the night on his own and then drove to work at the Crumlin Cross branch of the AIB as usual, around 9am.
He confided about his friend's plight to an employee and they decided to carry out the gunmen's instructions, without notifying bank staff.
The official was phoned and given a location for a drop-off. After he drove away with the money, his friend alerted other bank staff and gardai were informed shortly afterwards.
It is understood the official was trying to find the arranged location when he was ordered to take the money to the car park of the Red Cow Hotel, near the Red Cow roundabout on the Dublin-Naas dual carriageway.
He left the money there after midday and drove off. In the meantime, the garda crisis management team had swung into action and officers from the Organised Crime Unit, Emergency Response Unit, National Surveillance Unit and National Bureau of Criminal Investigation were deployed in the south city. But by then, the gang had collected the money and made their getaway.
The abducted man was released from the car boot by the roadside in Coolock at 1.30pm and contacted the local garda station. This is the first time AIB has breached the protocols.
Last month, gardai foiled a tiger robbery and recovered €100,000 in ransom cash, after they had been informed by the Ulster Bank of a raid on their Kimmage branch in Dublin.
Early garda intervention also foiled a tiger kidnap, in which former Kilkenny hurling star Adrian Ronan was the victim, at a branch of the Bank of Ireland last November.
Meanwhile, residents of Deerpark View are coming to terms with the news of the abduction of their two neighbours. By mid-afternoon, the road was still bustling with the coming and going of detectives and a garda forensic team who made for an odd sight juxtaposed with the clusters of small children kicking football and playing on bicycles.
Joe Mara (30), who lives across the street from the house where the abduction took place, said he was "shocked" when he saw the convoy of garda cars arrive .
"We had heard nothing and then there was just all this commotion," he said.
"I have a newborn baby here so we were up most of the night with him.
"There really wasn't a peep out of anybody outside from what we could tell. They were obviously quick and efficient because there wasn't any noise -- and if there was we would have heard it because we were listening out for the baby crying during the night."