Sunday 18 March 2018

Addict who hijacked car threatened to taser son

Gardai say 'psycho drugs' have led to huge upsurge in capital's crime

Addict who hijacked car threatened to taser son
Addict who hijacked car threatened to taser son
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Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

THE drug addict who hijacked a family car in Dublin threatened to taser the woman's nine-year-old son and his friend, also nine, the Sunday Independent has learnt.

New details of the shocking incident emerged yesterday as gardai continued the hunt for the carjacker, who subjected the woman and the two young children to a terrifying ordeal.

The nature of the threat to the children shocked even experienced gardai, who say there is a major upsurge in violent robbery that is related to increased use of 'psycho' drugs such as crack cocaine and crystal meth.

Friday's hijacker "calmly" let himself into the back of the woman's BMW estate car in the heart of middle-class south Dublin as she pulled up at the junction of Zion Road and Orwell Road in Terenure.

He told the woman he had a Taser and that if she did not comply with his demands then he would "harm" her young children.

The woman instantly began sounding her horn to raise the alarm but the man more forcibly threatened the children. He demanded that she take money from an ATM and when she said had left her card at home he forced her to drive to the house in Rathgar and retrieve it.

The woman drove to her home and then to the AIB bank in Rathgar, where he stood beside her as she withdrew money. He then repeated his threat to the woman and the boys and made her drive her to Portabello in the south inner city, where he left them.

The ordeal lasted almost an hour.

Gardai believe the hijacker forced the woman to drive him to the South Circular Road area as it is close to the St Theresa's Gardens/Donore area, where it is known crack and meth are being sold.

The drugs are increasingly supplanting heroin as the addict's drug of choice because much less heroin is available and what is being sold on the streets is highly diluted.

The average heroin 'bag' contains less than 10 per cent of the drug now.

It is the third hijacking in the city in the past two weeks. And gardai say that in the same period there have been hundreds of "thefts from the person" (either muggings or pickpocketings), dozens of armed robberies and hundreds more burglaries.

Sources pointed out that a "rock" of crack cocaine currently costs €100 and addicts generally need four or five "hits" a day.

"There is only one way to get four or five hundred euro a day and that's why there is a huge surge in crime like this. We need to have guards on the beat but we don't have them," one source told the Sunday Independent.

No official statistics reflecting the rise in robberies and hijackings are available and there has been no official warning to vulnerable people in the face of the rising use of violence in robberies by crack and meth addicts.

But gardai say people need to be very careful and keep their cars locked when driving in the city.

One senior officer told the Sunday Independent: "There were times in the past when we warned people driving near (an inner city flats complex) to keep their doors locked and for women to hide their handbags.

"It's the same now, even worse with these drugs. They are using crack and meth and other concoctions that drive them mad. They'll do anything to get their hit."

Gardai made arrests in the previous two hijackings. One of the victims was a pregnant Chinese woman just off Parnell Street in central Dublin last Monday.

The hijacker punched the woman in the head as he attempted to rob her handbag and steal the car. Two passing gardai saw the incident and intervened.

In the previous case, a middle-aged woman was punched to the ground outside her apartment in Ballsbridge and suffered head injuries. Two arrests were made. In both cases, the suspects were questioned and released pending files to the DPP.

Gardai believe that Friday's hijacker is an addict and say they are hopeful of making an arrest. They are studying CCTV footage from the bank and along the route that the car took.

The culprit made no attempt to hide his identity. He is described as around 5'9", of medium build, with cropped black hair and wearing a dark waxed jacket and a dark scarf.

Gardai appealed for help from anyone who may have been close to the junction of Zion Road and Orwell Road at about 3.40pm and saw a suspicious male hanging around.

Some people may recall hearing the woman sounding her horn at the location after the man got into her car.

They also appealed for anybody who may have seen unusual behaviour around the ATM at the AIB in Rathgar at about 4.05pm to 4.10pm to contact them in Terenure on 01 6666400, or the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111 or at any garda station.

Sunday Independent

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