Tuesday 21 November 2017

Security guard with Hodges Figgis tied up manager to steal €22k in takings

Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street. Photo: Google Maps
Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street. Photo: Google Maps

Declan Brennan

A security guard with Hodges Figgis Book Shop tied up the store’s manager and robbed the day’s takings after taking “a notion” to rob the place.

Paul Ryan (50) who has no previous criminal record and worked as a security guard for eight years, told gardai he was stressed out from family life and was drinking around the time of the crime.

After taking €22,145 from the safes of Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street in Dublin city centre, he took the day manager, Ciara Flanagan, to the shop’s cloak room where he bound her hands and legs up with tape.

After the robbery Ryan, formerly of North Strand Road, Dublin left the city for a month, sleeping rough and spending the stolen cash on drink and betting, the court heard.

Garda Sergeant Paul Burke said that Ryan went to race meets in Limerick and in Mallow, Co Cork.  After all the cash was spent he returned to the capital and handed himself into gardai at Pearse Street Station in the city centre.

Today Ryan pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery of the shop on March 23, 2014. He was also charged with false imprisonment and this charge is to be taken into consideration on sentencing.

Judge Catherine Murphy adjourned sentencing to July after hearing that the Probation Report on Ryan was incomplete and had not yet explored the area of victim awareness with him. Judge Murphy said the fact that this is his first conviction at the age of 50 raised “all sorts of questions”.

Ryan has being in custody awaiting sentence on this since handing himself into gardai and making full admissions on April 24, 2014.

Sergeant Burke told Kerida Naidoo BL, prosecuting, that Ms Flanagan had worked for the book store for two decades and knew Mr Ryan since he began doing the security there a year before the robbery.

Ryan had been working “as normal" on the afternoon of the offence and about half an hour before the shop closed at six pm he “took a notion” to take the money, the court heard.

Sgt Burke said that part of Ryan’s duty was to protect Ms Flanagan while she was closing tills and moving the cash into the shop’s safes upstairs. After he had locked up the front of the shop and she had made sure there was no one left on any of the shop’s floors he went with her to the cash office.

After she opened up the cash safe and had begun moving the cash into it, Ryan said to her in a quiet voice: “Come Ciara, come over here and sit down.”

He repeated the request and she didn’t understand but she sat down. He told her quietly that he wasn’t going to hurt her but she told gardaí later that she was frightened.

She noticed he had a brown roll of tape and she realised she was going to be taped up. After bagging the day’s takings and the week’s float from the safe he told her to come downstairs.

He told her to sit down on the floor of the cloak room and he taped her hands and legs. He asked was it tight and she said it was. He then told her to wait half an hour before doing anything and he left.

The victim told gardai that she was in shock and it felt surreal. She waited five minutes before freeing herself and raising the alarm.

After handing himself in a month later Ryan admitted everything. He said that apart from a €500 loan he didn’t owe any debts. He said he bound Ms Flanagan to stop her raising the alarm and he accepted that she must have been afraid.

The woman is still working but is more nervous in her work, the court heard. A victim impact report handed into the judge was not read out.

Sandra Frayne BL, defending, asked for her client to be assessed for a gambling addiction. Judge Murphy said that accommodation and addiction issues will also need to be addressed.

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