Tuesday 23 July 2019

Man kidnapped and bundled into car boot

Andrew McGrane sentenced for his role in 'traumatic' event for victim

A former Drogheda taxi driver, who admitted his role in the kidnapping of another man, was living in fear of being caught up in the current violent feud in the town, Dundalk Circuit Court heard this week.

Andrew McGrane (37) with an address at Dunlin Street, Aston Village, pleaded guilty to a charge of false imprisonment relating to events on May 26th 2015.

The court was told that the victim had been in phone contact with Andrew McGrane that day. They had known each other for many years.

Judge Petria McDonnell heard there was some disagreement over monies owed, but the victim said he agreed to meet McGrane at a specific location along the Termonfeckin Road.

The victim later told gardai that he arrived at the arranged location and waited on the accused to turn up. He recalled seeing a dark coloured car pull up which he assumed was Andrew McGrane.

But when he went over to the vehicle to speak through the window, he noticed a number of other men in the car.

Suddenly all the doors opened and he later told gardai that he 'panicked' and started to run towards a nearby estate.

He then described seeing three 'hoods' around him, three men whose faces he could not see. He heard one of the voices, which he recognised as the accused telling him to get into the car.

He said they carried him back towards the car, and in the process he lost one of his shoes, a runner. He began kicking and resisting the efforts they made to force him into the boot of the car.

The court was told that 'moderate violence' was used to force into the boot, and he then realised car was moving along the road. The victim suddenly remembered that he had his phone in his coat pocket, and he was able to ring gardai.

Within moments the car stopped and the boot was opened, his phone was removed and he was thrown out of the car. He was accused of having contacted the gardai.

But he was then forced back into the boot again, and the car was driven around for what he said 'felt like ages'. He recalled being driven along a road which had a lot of potholes before the car was stopped again for a second time, and he was pulled out the boot again and thrown onto an area at the side of the Ballymakenny Road.

The victim described walking along in the dark and looking for the lights of a house. He eventually got help from a man who answered the door to him and raised the alarm.

Gardai arrived at the scene and found the man in a state of distress. A wide area was searched for the BMW he described being carried in. Officers also visited the home of Andrew McGrane, and a suspect vehicle was removed for inspection.

Forensic analysis found blood in both the boot and in other parts of the car. DNA from the victim was found in the boot of the car.

In a victim impact statement, the man described how he was 'traumatised' by what had happened. He said he had known the accused well, but was still afraid of him.

Defence counsel Roddy O'Hanlon said Andrew McGrane is the father of two children. As a taxi driver, he was the victim of a kidnapping three years ago, and has suffered from anxiety since then. Mr. O'Hanlon said his client had in recent times become 'seriously concerned' at being caught up in or becoming the victim of the current feud going on in Drogheda.

He told the court that it was extremely dangerous for people who were 'trying to get out of it'.

He said Mr McGrane was 'very remorseful' about the incident, and was suffering from paranoia. He was trying to 'disengage' from previous associates who were described as the 'Drogheda gang feud'.

He said he had disengaged from social life in Drogheda entirely, and stayed at home.

Judge Petria McDonnell said it was a 'traumatic' event for the victim to have found himself imprisoned in the boot of a car.

She described it as a 'really serious offence' with the appropriate sentence being five years. She suspended the final three years of the sentence, indicating that he would serve two years.

Drogheda Independent