Thursday 14 December 2017

Jail for men who broke into GAA club on semi-finals night, tied up manager and made off with €7.5k

Clanna Gael GAA club in Irishtown
Clanna Gael GAA club in Irishtown

Isabel Hayes

Two men who broke into a Dublin GAA club on semi-finals night, tied up the bar manager and a patron and made off with over €7,500 have been jailed for five-and-a-half years.

Paul Reilly and Ray Donnelly used an imitation firearm to threaten the two men before tying their hands with duct tape and leaving them facedown on the floor of Clanna Gael GAA club in Irishtown, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.

Donnelly (49) with an address in Poolbeg Quay, Ringsend, Dublin, worked for the club previously through a FAS course and knew that the lock on the back door was faulty, Detective Garda Shane Griffin told the court.

Donnelly and Reilly (36) with an address in Saville Place, Dublin, both pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of an imitation firearm at the club on September 2, 2012. Further counts of false imprisonment were taken into account.

Sentencing the men to five-and-a-half years' imprisonment, Judge Martin Nolan noted it was a serious robbery that involved a false firearm and the threat of violence.

He also sentenced Donnelly to a further four months in prison after he pleaded guilty to a charge of handling stolen property while on bail for the GAA club robbery. The court heard Donnelly tried to sell a stolen Volkswagen Golf on DoneDeal website on July 24, 2015.

Det Gda Griffin told the court that in the early hours of the morning, he was called to Clanna Gael club after a panic alarm was sounded. He said Paul Lynch, the bar manager, and a club patron, Paul McDonald, were having a drink in the locked club after a busy semi-finals night when two men wearing long-haired wigs burst into the building.

Mr Lynch immediately recognised Donnelly as a former worker in the club, despite his attempts to pull the wig over his face and put on a Northern Irish accent.

The intruders tied both men's hands with duct tape and left them on the floor while they ransacked the club's safe. They made off with €7,569, which had never been recovered, prosecuting counsel, Martina Baxter BL, said.

Donnelly was arrested a few days after the robbery, while Reilly was arrested after his DNA was found on the duct tape used during the robbery.

In victim impact statements tendered to court, Mr McDonald said he had largely recovered from the incident and viewed it as a case of “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

However, Mr Lynch was severely affected by the robbery. He reported that he had to leave his job as he was fearful that someone was going to come back and attack him.

The court heard Reilly has 39 previous convictions while Donnelly has a “large” number of previous convictions and was given a five-year sentence for a drugs charge in 1998. The court heard both men had former drug addictions and carried out the offence in order to pay off a drug debt.

Defence counsel for Donnelly, Giollaíosa O Lideadha SC, said his client was extremely remorseful for his “unspeakable and unforgivable” actions that night.

Defence counsel for Leahy, Shane Costelloe SC, said he carried out the offence under the “threat of physical violence, not just to himself but to his partner”.

He said his client had a tragic upbringing, including the death of his mother by suicide when he was young.

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