Man gets five years for role in €7.5m BoI heist
A FORMER bricklaying firm boss has been sentenced to five years in prison for possessing nearly €2m from the biggest bank heist in the history of the State.
Mark Donoghue (40) was caught with €1.74m hours after the tiger kidnapping of bank employee Shane Travers, his girlfriend Stephanie Smith and her family.
On the night of February 26, 2009, a gang forced Mr Travers to drive his car to the Bank of Ireland in College Green, Dublin, collect €7.5m and hand it over to them.
He was given photographs of his girlfriend and her family and the home of another staff member to show his colleagues before the cash was taken.
Mr Travers arranged for the money to be placed in bags before it was handed to the gang. His family was then released in Ashbourne in Co Meath.
Gardai accepted that Donoghue did not know that the victims had been held at gunpoint in their Kildare home the previous night.
Donoghue, a married father of two from Kileen, Legan, Co Longford, pleaded guilty to possessing the cash knowing it to be, or being reckless as to whether it was, the proceeds of criminal conduct on February 27, 2009.
Donoghue previously ran a successful company providing brick-laying services to construction firms but the business collapsed and he was in severe financial difficulty and in the process of being sued.
He agreed to hold the cash for €5,000 and was to pass it on to other criminals the following day, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard.
Judge Patricia Ryan said she accepted that Donoghue had been unaware there had been a kidnapping, and that he had been in financial difficulties.
She imposed a five-year sentence and suspended the final two years on strict conditions. She also backdated the sentence to February 2009, when Donoghue went into custody.
Superintendent Patrick Mangan told the court that gardai had an address at Great Western Villas, Dublin 7, under surveillance hours after the robbery.
Donoghue was observed entering a house in the estate before leaving with a man carrying holdall bags. This man left and a third man arrived before the bags were placed into a car. Donoghue and the man got into separate cars.
Gardai surrounded both vehicles, but Donoghue fled the scene in an Opel Astra. At the junction of the N3 and the M50 he was blocked in by a second squad car and arrested.
The holdall containing €1.74m in cash was found in the boot of the Astra and analysis linked it to the robbery.
Donoghue later told gardai that he was approached by a man in a pub after a funeral and offered an opportunity to earn €5,000 when the man learned he was in severe financial difficulties.
His role was to store the stolen cash for a short period.
Supt Mangan agreed that Donoghue never received the €5,000 and gardai were satisfied that he knew nothing about the false imprisonment of the bank employee, his girlfriend and her family the previous day.
He said Donoghue, who has one previous public order conviction, acknowledged that he knew the cash had come from an illegitimate source and was the proceeds of crime.
Donoghue's lawyer asked the court to accept that his client had "very limited involvement with the criminal justice system" and that he had previously contributed positively to society.