Man guilty of tiger kidnapping of postmistress, daughter and student
A man has been convicted of a €90,000 tiger kidnapping four years ago in which a postmistress, her daughter and an Italian student were abducted from their home.
Paschal Kelly (53), with an address at Cootehill, Co Cavan, had pleaded not guilty to trespass and to false imprisonment of postmistress Susan Lawlor, her daughter Emma Carter and Italian student Gabriella Saisa at Seabury Drive, Malahide, Dublin, on September 25, 2014.
Kelly had 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 had also denied unlawful possession of a vehicle, all on the same date.
Shortly after midday yesterday, the jury of seven men and five women returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all charges after an hour and 40 minutes deliberating.
The trial was originally scheduled to last six weeks, but extended into a ninth due to legal argument in the absence of the jury.
Judge Karen O'Connor thanked the jurors for their "extraordinary service and your extraordinary commitment to you jury service". She excused them from jury service for life.
Kelly has been remanded in custody ahead of his sentencing in January next year.
The judge directed victim impact statements be taken from the three injured parties.
During the trial Ms Lawlor, Ms Carter and Ms Saisa described being abducted by two masked and armed intruders in the early hours of the morning and driven to various locations before the post office raid.
The two men broke into the home, tied the women's hands with cable ties and bundled them all into Ms Lawlor's Nissan Qashqai. They were later joined by a third raider in a Volkswagen Golf at a field in an unknown location.
On the way to this field, Ms Lawlor told the jury her phone rang in her handbag. She said the driver "freaked" and asked: "Who the f*** is ringing you at this hour of the morning?"
She said that this raider, who she called "Number 1", had initially come into her room after breaking in, and had demanded to know if she'd made a call.
She denied doing so to the intruder, but told the jury she had managed to ring a special "tiger raid hotline number" issued by An Post when she heard her daughter screaming in the house.
After her phone rang in the car, her daughter tried to calm the situation by suggesting it was one of the neighbours.
"I feared for my life because the Number 1 guy kept saying he was going to shoot me if I'd made the call," Ms Lawlor testified.
Ms Carter said it had "felt like a horror movie" upon seeing two intruders in her home, but she "knew it would be OK" once she realised it was a tiger kidnapping - if the raiders got their money.
Ms Saisa, who was learning English, said she thought the men were going to kill her.