Sunday 21 January 2018

Tiger kidnapper jailed for 15 years after retrial

Jason Kavanagh (39) was jailed for 25 years in 2009 but was freed in June 2012 when the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed that conviction
Jason Kavanagh (39) was jailed for 25 years in 2009 but was freed in June 2012 when the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed that conviction

A family who were kidnapped by armed robbers nine years ago have said that the ordeal changed their lives forever.

Paul and Marie Richardson were speaking after one member of the kidnap gang received a sentenced of 15 years imprisonment after a retrial.

Jason Kavanagh (39) was jailed for 25 years in 2009 but was freed in June 2012 when the Court of Criminal Appeal quashed that conviction.

Kavanagh of Corduff Avenue, Blanchardstown was part of the gang which kidnapped the family of the Securicor worker during the robbery in March 2005.

The gang took Paul Richardson's wife and their two teenage sons into the Dublin Mountains and held them there at gunpoint overnight. Other gang members held Mr Richardson at the family home until the next morning when he was told to go to work and deliver company cash to a drop off point.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court Judge Martin Nolan said that Kavanagh should be given credit for any time already spent in custody. Kavanagh was previously jailed in November 2009 and was released on bail in June 2012.

Kavanagh and three co-accused denied the charges of falsely imprisoning the Richardsons at Ashcroft, Raheny on the night of March 13 and 14 and robbery of €2.28 million in cash from Paul Richardson and Securicor Security Services Ireland Ltd on March 14, 2005.

After a fifty day trial the jury failed to reach a majority verdict on the charges against Christopher Corcoran (66) of Bayside Boulevard North, Sutton and Mark Farrelly (42) of Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock. They found Alan Costello (50) of Cromcastle Road, Coolock not (NOT) guilty of all charges.

Judge Nolan said that Kavanagh had played a serious role in a cold blooded crime that involved the threat of extreme violence. He said the gang were seriously professional criminals who had executed the robbery with military precision.

He commended the “extreme fortitude” shown by the Richardson family and congratulated Detective Inspector Paul Scott for his tenacity and diligence in carrying out the investigation.

Inspector Scott told the court that Kavanagh, a father of two, has 25 previous convictions including assault, forgery and possession of stolen property.

Farrelly, Kavanagh and Corcoran were previously found guilty of the same charges in 2009. Judge Tony Hunt sentenced Corcoran to 12 years. He jailed the other two men for 25 years each.

Following a Supreme Court ruling in February 2012 which ruled that the type of search warrant used in the investigation was unconstitutional the Court of Criminal Appeal overturned these convictions and ordered a retrial.

The original trial lasted 66 days and was the longest criminal trial in Irish legal history.

The trial revolved around three main points of evidence: DNA tests, CCTV footage and mobile phone tracking. Using call trace data from service providers gardai drew up charts showing the times, duration and general location of mobile phone calls between a small group of numbers during the robbery.

These numbers had been generated out of the so-called “purple” phone, which was identified as the only phone used in the Dublin mountains on the night of the kidnapping.

Speaking outside the court Paul Richardson said the crime has left them with “on-going stress and health issues”.

He said: “There are others responsible and we look forward to them being brought to justice”.

Marie Richardson told the trial that she was in her home with her son Kevin (then aged 13) when they heard a knock on the door. She assumed it was her husband who had gone to pick up their other son Ian from football practice.

When she opened the door four masked men forced their way into the house. One of them grabbed her by the throat and forced her up against the wall before she and her son were led into the sitting room.

The men then brought in a box containing a Uzi submachine gun, revolver, a knife and a Polaroid camera.

A short time later Mr Richardson and his son Ian (then 17) arrived home and were also brought into the sitting room. When Ian saw the scene he had a panic attack and had to be given a paper bag to breath into.

One of the raiders, armed with the revolver, took Mr Richardson into a back room and told him what they wanted him to do.

Mr Richardson later told gardaí the man seemed to have an intimate knowledge of Securicor procedures and terminology, such as “buster buttons”. He also had what was either a Securicor walkie talkie or a Garda frequency scanner.

Mr Richardson agreed to do what the raiders told him. Polaroid pictures were taken of two raiders pointing their guns at the family. These pictures were then given to Mr Richardson so he could show his co-workers to prove his family were in danger.

The raiders took Mrs Richardson  and her sons to a secluded area called Cloon Wood in Co Wicklow, leaving Mr Richardson to spend the night captive in his home. At one point in the night the raiders allowed him to speak to his wife via the so-called "purple phone".

The next morning two raiders took Marie and her sons up a path in the woods prior to their release and bound their wrists with cable ties. When the men got a call to say the €2.28m had been deposited they left.

The family managed to free themselves using a small knife attached to Kevin’s key ring.

In the meantime Mr Richardson travelled early to work the following morning and got his work colleagues to help him carry out the job for the gang by showing them the Polaroids of him and his family at gunpoint.

After dropping off the cash he drove slowly towards Mullingar as he was expecting a call on a walkie-talkie from the raiders to say his wife and children were safe.

He became increasingly agitated and when his colleagues finally raised the alarm and pulled the van over Mr Richardson was in a state of severe shock. When Securicor told him over the radio that his family was unharmed he collapsed on the roadside.

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