Wednesday 19 December 2018

Moment man is arrested following dramatic crime spree in which six cars were hijacked and two injured

The scene in CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The scene in CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The car from which a man fled before he was arrested and taken from CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The scene after a man was arrested and taken from CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The scene in CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Conor Feehan, Ken Foy and Robin Schiller

This is the moment that hundreds of shoppers watched as a man at the centre of a garda manhunt was arrested outside a shopping centre in Dublin today.

The man who was arrested in relation to a Dublin crime spree in which six cars were hijacked, has previously been jailed for his role in a car-jacking and is currently serving a driving ban.

The 37-year-old suspect remains in garda custody following a dramatic pursuit across the city which lasted almost eight hours.

He was arrested by armed detectives outside the CityWest shopping centre shortly after 2pm, while a firearm was recovered nearby. 

The scene in CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The scene in CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Independent.ie has learned that this individual previously served a lengthy prison term for armed robbery and has also served a sentence in the UK after being involved in a robbery and car-jacking.

During the armed robbery in Dublin, his accomplice was fatally wounded after being stabbed. 

Gardai believe that today's violent crime spree, during which the suspect was armed with a machine gun, began following a domestic dispute at a property in the Brookfield area of Tallaght at around 6am.

It is being investigated if the man was also involved in a physical dispute at a Tallaght property on Saturday evening prior to his violent rampage.

The car from which a man fled before he was arrested and taken from CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The car from which a man fled before he was arrested and taken from CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Gardaí from the elite Emergency Response Unit (ERU) were drafted in to hunt for the suspect, while members of the public were warned not to approach the armed thug.

An eye-witness told Independent.ie that he got the "biggest fright of my life".

The scene of the arrest
The scene of the arrest

"I work here in one of the units and I was coming out with bags of stuff to the truck. I heard a noise when the truck was coming down the road. I thought a wheel fell off it or something. I turned around again and the car came to a halt. I thought someone was in bother with a wheel and I turned to walk away and I heard someone shouting as I turned back the man was running with a gun up to his chest and ran into me, sent me spinning. I gathered myself together and the next thing I know there were a hundred guards all over the place and had him arrested on the ground. It was the biggest fright I ever got in my life."

The first car-jacking took place in the Tallaght area within an hour, while gardai later received reports of a car being stolen from a restaurant on the Naas Road at around 1.30pm. A vehicle was also stolen from a car garage in the area, before a Mercedes was car-jacked before being abandoned outside the shopping centre.

The scene in CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney
The scene in CityWest shopping centre following a major manhunt. Photo: Gerry Mooney

At least two people were viciously assaulted by the man during the crime spree.

The first stolen car was crashed in the Russell Square area of Tallaght. He then hijacked a Citroen Berlingo van which he abandoned in the Whitestown Way area a short time later.

The suspect then went to a house in the Watergate area of Tallaght not far from The Square shopping centre where at 6.50am he rang the doorbell.

The owner answered the front door and was shocked when he saw the armed man standing at the porch door with what looked like a machine gun in his hands. The owner was assaulted before his car was robbed.

The search continued during the morning and then at lunchtime there was another breakthrough when the suspect abandoned the Renault in a car park on the Nass Road and stole or hijacked a silver Volvo car with a 06 MO registration.

Within minutes gardai received reports that he had ditched the Volvo and stolen a blue Subaru car at a dealership.

Then the on the run criminal hijacked a black Mercedes car and gardai chased it in the direction of CityWest Shopping Centre, where he was eventually apprehended.

Local Cllr Charlie O'Connor said the ongoing dangerous situation had caused fear and upset in Tallaght and the wider community, but that gardai had handled it well.

"There was a lot of concern and upset. I had calls from schools who were aware of the situation and were concerned about letting children out, and of the threat and drama that was present," he said.

"This was everywhere in Tallaght, but the massive presence of the gardai was a big reassurance and they did very well in the end to capture this man without any major injuries or disaster," he added.

A garda spokesman has thanked the public for their assistance.

They said in a statement: "Following a series of incidents in Tallaght this morning 23rd October 2017, Gardaí are currently carrying out searches of the area for a man who is believed to be armed.

"Gardaí are asking the public to contact Tallaght Garda Station on 01 6666 000 the emergency number 999 or 112 if they have any information or see anything suspicious."

Did you witness any of today's events? Contact our news desk at 017055631.

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