€9,000 raid cash missing from garda station strongroom 'was not mislaid'
OFFICERS investigating the disappearance of €9,000 from an evidence bag locked into a safe at a garda station are carrying out an audit to establish how the money went missing.
The investigation team is trying to establish how many people handled the cash from the time it was recovered by gardai after a post office robbery to being stored in the garda station strong-room.
The investigation was ordered after it was determined that the missing money had not been mislaid elsewhere in the station and is being headed by a chief superintendent and a detective superintendent.
The Irish Independent disclosed yesterday that the money was suspected to be part of a €26,000 haul taken from the post office in Lusk in north Co Dublin last January.
Gardai said last night they were focusing on pinpointing the whereabouts of the cash from the time it was seized from a getaway car, which had been intercepted and blocked by an anti-crime patrol shortly after the raid.
The haul was initially checked and then photographed, fingerprinted and forensically examined before it was bagged and tagged as potential evidence in any criminal trial arising from the inquiries into the raid.
The evidence bag was then placed in the safe in a strong-room at Balbriggan garda station.
The discrepancy was discovered late last month when John Wilson, the owner of the Costcutter shop, where the post office is located, called to the station to seek the return of the money.
After officers found a small tear in the bag, they checked the contents and discovered there was only €17,000 still held in the safe. Mr Wilson retrieved the rest of his money from the garda station and lodged it in the bank.
He revealed he can't make a claim for the missing cash on his insurance until the investigation is complete.
"For all we know, it could turn up at a holding unit or another garda station," he said.
The investigation team is currently interviewing any gardai who might have been in contact with the evidence bag.
Officers are also examining the records kept to log the whereabouts of the money and the results of a forensic examination of the bag for fingerprints.
During the January raid three men held up four members of staff and a couple of customers at gunpoint before making off with the money.
The post office was also held up by an armed gang, who confronted members of the garda emergency response unit in May 2005. Two of the robbers, Colm Griffin and Eric Hopkins were killed.