Bungling robbers paid more for fake gun than they made from raid

On Friday brothers John and Ryan Golden, both with an address at 15 Casement?s View in Ardfert, appeared at Tralee Circuit Criminal Court charged with robbing ?140 from Teresa Byrnes using a fake assault rifle.

The brothers carried out the robbery, described by defence barristers as ?spectacularly inept? and ?incompetent,? to pay off a substantial drug debt owed to a major Limerick drugs gang.

The court heard that John and Ryan Golden bought the imitation AK-47 assault rifle in a Killarney shop on the morning of the robbery for ?195 before visiting a Tralee shop where they purchased balaclavas.

They then drove to Abbeydorney with the intention of robbing the post office to clear their drugs debt. Before reaching the village the brothers stopped and posed for photos ? taken with Ryan Golden?s mobile phone ? wearing their balaclavas and hoodies and brandishing the imitation gun.

When they reached the post office Ryan Golden aimed the rifle at shop assistant Teresa Byrnes, cocked the gun and said ?money.? John Golden then threw a backpack at her and ordered her to fill it from the till.

Post office owner Frank O?Donovan and a German tourist were also on the premises at the time.

Teresa Byrnes put ?140 in the bag and the Golden brothers fled the scene and drove towards Lerrig where they considered robbing another post office.

Gardaí were alerted by Frank O?Donovan who hit a panic alarm and a number of armed checkpoints were set up in the area.

The Golden brothers drove to Tubrid in Ardfert where they hid the imitation firearm, threw away their hoodies and balaclavas and set fire to their car.

Soon afterwards they were discovered sitting in a building site by local gardaí. They at first denied any role in the robbery but said they knew where the gun was hidden. While helping garda find the gun they admitted they had carried out the raid.

Ryan Golden was taken to Tralee Garda Station and John Golden to Listowel. Both were interviewed and made full admissions.

At Tralee Circuit Court on Friday Detective Sergeant Fearghal Patwell of Tralee Garda Station said the brothers were extremely lucky they had not encountered armed gardaí while carrying the ?lifelike? imitation firearm.If they were coming out of the post office carrying that gun and we met them we would have had to take a certain course of action,? he said.

Defence Barrister Brian McInerny QC said the brothers had carried out the robbery because they were in fear for their lives.These men were under extreme pressure to pay a significant drugs debt to a sinister gang who are prepared to take extreme action to collect debts or penalise people who owe them money,? he said.This was a spur of the moment robbery which was not the most brilliantly planned operation ever carried out. In fact it cost them more to carry it out than they actually made. The gun alone cost ?195 while they only escaped with ?140,? Mr McInerny said.

Judge Carroll Moran said he required time to consider the sentence and adjourned the matter to this Friday.

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