€1.1m diamond heist was planned from Lithuania
Four criminals were contracted in Eastern Europe to specifically target a Galway city jewellers, where they carried out a violent armed robbery, stealing €1.1m worth of diamond rings and Rolex watches.
Detective Sergeant John McElroy told Galway Circuit Criminal Court that the robbery was planned from Lithuania.
The four men before the court, Irmantas Paulauskas (38), Saulius Repecka (37), Erikas Matusevicius (36) and Vaidas Pinelis (28) had been "recruited" there to do the job and arrived in Dublin two days before the robbery.
They went to Galway the day beforehand to 'case' the premises and leave unlocked bicycles nearby at Merchant's Road to be used for their getaway.
Sentencing Paulauskas to 14 years in prison and the other three men to eight years, Judge Rory McCabe hinted that people with local knowledge must have played a part.
He said: "The evidence strongly suggests this robbery was meticulously planned and these men were probably under contract to carry it out. All of them knew where to go and what to look for in the shop."
The 'smash and grab' style robbery was carried out with military-style precision and the men were on the premises for only 90 seconds, before leaving calmly with two rucksacks crammed with 16 trays of diamond rings and 32 Rolex watches. The rucksacks were later found by gardaí, hidden under a bush on Lough Atalia.
All four were arrested within a hour of the robbery and while three of them admitted their guilt straight away, Paulauskas denied any involvement.
A jury found him guilty on Wednesday of carrying out the robbery and of being armed with an imitation pistol.
The sentence hearing yesterday heard that all four men had previous convictions in Lithuania, with Paulauskas having convictions for thefts, fraud and serious assaults.