A YOUNG Kilmuckridge man has been sentenced to four years in jail for his role in the robbery of his local Post Office in 2010.
Zach Hayden ( 23), of 46 Chapelwood in Kilmuckridge, came before Judge Barry Hickson at Wexford Circuit Court on a plea of guilty to assisting in the robbery on February 24 that year. However, he will have the final two and a half years of his sentence supsended on condition that he enters into a bond to keep the peace for two years after his release from prison.
A second defendant, Michael Keane (21) of Cosher, Kilmuckridge, who pleaded guilty to impeding the Garda investigation, had his sentencing adjourned for twelve months.
The court heard from Detective Garda John Dwyer that at around 4.15 p.m. on the day in question, a stolen car with three occupants pulled up outside Hammel's supermarket in Kilmuckridge. The post office is located in the same complex as the supermarket..
One of the occupants of the car went inside while carrying a sawn-off shotgun. Another person, still outside, fired a shot into the air from a 'potato gun'. He then also went inside. The first man pointed the sawn-off shotgun at the postmistress and threatened her, while both were shouting at her to demand cash. They then ran out to the waiting car.
The car was driven to the Chapelwood housing estate just outside Kilmuckridge. The occupants went into a house there, property of Zach Hayden's parents, and from there went into a shed.
Zach Hayden was subsequently arrested on March 8 in 2010, Det Garda Dwyer said, and following arrest, he admitted he had been told by people that the robbery was being planned. He had been asked to find a property that could be used by the raiders, and to arrange transport for them. He also acknowledged that he took the clothes the raiders were wearing at the time of the robbery and burned them in another house, and that he knew the guns were being kept in another person's house. He said he helped in having two people taken away, and that he was paid €300 for doing so.
Keane's involvement, said Det. Garda Dwyer, was of a lesser nature. He travelled to the Chapelwood Estate later that afternoon, collected one of the raiders and brought him to Ballygarrett, for which he received €50. Later that day he had located the sawn-off shotgun and potato gun and brought them to Ballygarrett.
Both defendants, said Det. Garda Dwyer, had expressed remorse for their involvement. He added that there were no physical injuries to anyone on the premises or outside.
The court further heard that Haydes had a partner and a child and has recently been working part-time. He has three previous convicctions, two relating to traffic offences, while the third is under appeal.
Defence Counsel for Hayden, Conor O'Doherty B.L., said that during interview he admitted his involvement and expressed remorse. There may have been an element of pressure on Hayden from the individuals involved in this. The Probation Report suggested that he is a low risk of re-offending.
Dylan Redmond B.L., Counsel for Keane, said that his involvement was at ' the lowest end'. He had no prior knowledge what would take place, but accepted his responsibility for his eventual role. In relation to the firearms, he (Keane) was made aware they had been stored in Hayden's house after which he went and got them from behind a wardrobe, which was why he was before the court.
Judge Hickson said it was clear that Hayden had a very active involvement in what was a most serious crime. He assisted in providing a hideout, while he also had prior knowledge of the robbery while he also arranged transport. This was a very intimidating robbery where a saw off shot-gun was pointed at the postmistress.
He said he would sentence Hayden to four years in prison, but would suspend the last two and half years on him entering a bond of €100 euro to keep the peace for two years on leaving prison.
In relation to Keane, Judge Hickson said he had a lesser role and it was very clear from the garda evidence that he was on the periphery of this offence. He decided to adjourn the case for twelve months on condition that he liaise with the Probation Officers, and should he behave well during that period, he would not impose a custodial sentence and would be prepared to give him a chance.