Sunday 22 July 2018

Midlands crime rampage: Suspect in armed robbery 'crashed two getaway cars'

Robin Schiller and Ken Foy

A criminal suspected of crashing two getaway cars after an alleged armed robbery is the chief suspect in another armed robbery just days earlier.

The bungling thug (31), who is a well-known criminal from Portlaoise town, was found in a serious condition by emergency services in a crashed car in Co Laois in the early hours of Saturday morning.

It followed a crime rampage in which a garage was robbed and shots were fired at a homeowner, as well as the theft of two vehicles.

It has emerged that this criminal is also the chief suspect in the armed robbery of an oil depot just days previously.

In that incident, around €2,000 in cash was stolen. Another man was also involved in this robbery.

The suspect currently in hospital has a number of previous convictions linked to his heroin addiction which include handling stolen property.

"This man would be well-known to local gardaí and despite being treated with serious injuries, he is expected to make a full recovery," a source said.

Saturday's crime spree began when a man wearing a balaclava walked into the Emo filling station in Mountrath about 12.35am.

He threatened a staff member with a gun, and later made off with up to €3,000 in cash.

Around 10 minutes after the armed robbery, a car was involved in a collision outside a house in Derrykean, near Abbeyleix.

When the occupants of the house went to investigate, a shot was fired at them. No one was seriously injured as a result of the firearm being discharged.

"The occupants of this house were simply checking on the well-being of the person in the car, but a shot was fired at them for their troubles," a source said.

The man then proceeded to steal the vehicle of this homeowner, and fled the area in the direction of Abbeyleix.

Shortly before 1am, gardaí got reports of a road traffic collision around 1.5km from where the second vehicle was taken.

Responding officers later discovered this car crashed into a tree around 1.5km from Derrykearn. They arrested a man and recovered a firearm and a sum of cash at the scene.

The man was taken to the Midland Regional Hospital, Tullamore, Co Offaly, where his condition was described as serious. Gardaí said the man is still receiving treatment in the hospital.

A Garda spokeswoman said that no arrests have been made and investigations are ongoing.

The suspect in the crime spree is well-known to gardaí and investigating officers believe he was working alone on this occasion.

"There is nothing to suggest he was working with an accomplice during his morning of crime over the weekend.

"The robbery last week was carried out with an accomplice," a senior source said last night.

"Although the money and firearm were recovered from Saturday morning's incidents, the cash stolen last week has yet to be recovered," the source added.

Irish Independent

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