Detective tells tiger kidnapping trial he feared for his life when he fired shots at a suspect during armed chase
A garda detective has told the trial of a Cavan resident accused of taking part in a €90,000 tiger kidnapping that he feared for his life when he fired shots on a suspect during an armed chase.
Paschal Kelly (52) with an address at Cootehill, Co. Cavan, has pleaded not guilty to trespass and falsely imprisoning postmistress Susan Lawlor, her daughter Emma Carter and Italian student Gabriella Saisa at Seabury Drive, Malahide, Dublin, on September 25, 2014.
Mr Kelly has also pleaded not guilty to robbing Ms Lawlor of cash at Bayside Post Office, Sutton, Dublin, and threatening to kill her, Ms Carter and Ms Saisa at an unknown location in the State. He has also denied unlawful possession of a vehicle, all on the same date.
On day 15 of the trial at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court a member of the Garda Emergency Response Unit told Kerida Naidoo SC, prosecuting, that he was on duty on the morning.
The detective said he was made aware of an ongoing garda operation concentrated on Bayside Post Office, where it was suspected that an armed robbery was taking place or had already taken place. He said he was also aware that persons may have been taken hostage from a house in Malahide.
At around 8.15am he was informed via radio communications that persons were seen exiting the post office and running towards a grey VW Golf car.
He said he was driving an unmarked patrol car and his vehicle came on the grey Golf of interest. The car was the last in a line of cars stopped at traffic lights.
He saw another person in the back seat of the Golf and said there was “a flurry of activity within the cockpit of the car” and “a lot of agitated movement”. He saw the car begin to move forward and he drove up and stopped alongside it. He said he was calling out “armed gardaí”.
The detective said he got out of the patrol car and drew his firearm, he said. He then saw two men exiting the Golf and he and his colleague gave chase to these individuals. He chased one of the men down the driveway of a house and saw him throwing a small black item towards woodlands on his right.
The suspect ran past some stables and got over a fence into a field.
“I saw him suddenly stop and begin to turn around. I saw what I believed to be a firearm in his right arm. I called 'armed gardaí' and called on him to stop.
“He didn't react and I discharged a shot at him. He continued to turn. He didn’t react. I discharged a a second shot. I was in fear of my life,” he testified.
After the second shot the suspect dropped to the ground, but as the detective crossed the fence the man “suddenly sprang to his feet” and ran to a nearby wall.
He got on to the wall and dropped into a garden and resumed running in and out of residential gardens. The detective told Mr Naidoo he continued to chase the man but lost sight in the end.
Martin O'Rourke SC, defending, put it to him in cross-examination that he had waited to see what “other agencies, including CCTV” provided about the suspect's description.
The detective denied he had based his description of the man on other agencies, saying the suggestion was “not true”.
He added that he had pursued the man on foot for about 500 meters so he was able to describe him in his statement.
The trial continues before Judge Karen O'Connor and the jury.