| 10.1°C Dublin

Getaway car driven by wife in botched raid

A woman has been spared jail for acting as the getaway driver for her husband as he tried to rob a building society dressed as a wealthy wheelchair-bound woman.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Denise Ward (39) waited in the car while her husband, Thomas Clark, entered Permanent TSB being pushed in a wheelchair by his accomplice, Martin Collins.


Clark was wearing a poor-quality black wig and was posing as a woman who wanted to invest €2.9m she had been awarded by the State.

The pair were chased out of the place by the manager when he realised that Clarke was wearing a disguise and their 'gun' was an axe covered in duct tape.

The manager said, "Would you ever f**k off," and told them to "stop being stupid", before the pair ran into Ward's waiting Toyota Corolla.

Detective Sergeant Peter Woods told Dara Hayes, prosecuting, that the car had already been noticed by a passer-by, who saw it being driven suspiciously in the area.

Later the witness gave the registration number to gardai, who traced it to Ward.

Shortly afterwards, gardai arrested Ward and she admitted her role.

Ward, of Chaplains Place, Dublin 22, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at Permanent TSB on Lower Kilmadcud Road, Stillorgan on October 20, 2010. She has six previous convictions for minor matters.

Clark has already been jailed for six years, with two suspended for this and other crimes, while Collins received three years for his role.

Yesterday Judge Martin Nolan accepted that Ward played a minor role in the raid and was "somewhat pressurised" into it.


He said she was entitled to one chance, before imposing a three-year suspended sentence.

Defence counsel Marie Torrens said her client was addicted to drugs at the time, but is thriving since being separated from her husband.

Det Sgt Woods agreed that she wasn't involved in the planning of the robbery and had claimed she did it under duress.