A PART-time garda played a key role yesterday in the arrest of a man suspected of holding up staff at a building society with an axe.
The reservist and a full-time colleague spotted the suspect as he made his getaway across the river Liffey in Co Kildare.
They caught up with him in nearby undergrowth and after a struggle the man was arrested and taken to Leixlip garda station for questioning.
The suspect is well known to gardai and is from south Dublin.
The raid took place at the Educational Building Society branch at Mill Lane in Leixlip shortly after 9am.
The suspect ran into the premises and confronted a female member of staff with the axe. He demanded cash, but was told there was a timelock on the safe and he was forced to flee empty-handed.
The two officers, who were on patrol together at the time, quickly caught up with the man, who had been carrying the axe in a plastic bag, and detained him.
The suspect was being questioned last night under section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act and can be detained without charge for a maximum of 24 hours.
Anne-Marie Kelly (45), from Leixlip, told the Irish Independent how she had witnessed part of the robbery as she opened her business premises next door, and had then given chase with a number of other locals. She arrived at her shop shortly after 9am and lifted the shutters to see a man peering through the windows of the EBS.
"He was wearing a red jacket, blue jeans and a hoodie", she said. She called out to him: "Sorry, excuse me, they don't open until 9.30am."
Ms Kelly added: "He heard me but he didn't acknowledge me. He didn't even look at me. My first thought was that he was a bit loopy so I didn't pay any heed to it. Shortly afterwards, one of the girls in the EBS opened the door and he pushed his way in.
"They were threatened verbally but there was no physicality. He told them to open the safe but they said there was a timelock and that two people were required to open it.
"A customer of mine had been driving by and saw what was happening. She rushed in here and told me there was a robbery next door and to ring the gardai.
"Just as I put the phone down, the robber ran by my window with a plastic bag in his hand. I thought it was full of money but later found out he had an axe inside."
Ms Kelly said she joined a staff member, who was running after the man.
"We both tried to grab on to him and then the driver of a post office van tried to block him from running over the bridge. At that point, I jumped into my car to chase him. But when the robber saw he was blocked he ran into a neighbour's garden, climbed over a wall and jumped on to a roof. I didn't see him after that," she added.
The reserve garda, who is in his early thirties, was congratulated later by his colleagues. One officer said: "He joined the reserve to help the local community but he hopes at some stage to become a member of the full-time force."
The strength of the reserve has now grown to 810 members, including 10 in training.