Wednesday 21 March 2018

Neighbour had a role in attemped PO robbery

Sean Tiernan of Dromore West
Sean Tiernan of Dromore West

Paul Deering

A 56-year-old separated father of four who allowed three men stay in his house the night before they ran a West Sligo post mistress off the road in her car in an attempt to rob her, has been given a three year suspended jail sentence.

Sligo Circuit Court was told the post mistress, Mary Scott held on to a bag of cash containing €12,000 despite the would be robber pulling at it as she was in her car in the ditch.

Eventually, the robber gave up and drove off with two others, all said to be foreign.

Before the court was Sean Tiernan of Dromore West (pictured right) who admitted a charge of attempting to rob Mrs Scott at Culleens on March 2nd 2012.

The court was told he was an accessory before the fact by providing information on Mrs Scott's movements while he also put the three men up in his house the night before the incident.

The driver of the car received a four year suspended sentence in July last year.

In reply to prosecuting counsel Dara Foynes BL with State Solicitor, Hugh Sheridan, Detective Garda Oliver McHale said the car had rammed Mrs Scott's who was transporting money from Dromore West Post Office to her own in Culleens.

She left for Dromore at 9.30am on Friday, March 2nd and got the cash from the post office there and placed it in her handbag.

On the way back to Culleens she caught up with a silver car which indicated for her to overtake and she eventually did.

This car then side swiped Mrs Scott's car, putting her into a drain, fifteen feet below the road.

An occupant of the other car ran down and tried to take the bag but Mrs Scott resisted.

Other people began to arrive and the would be robbers gave up and drove off in the direction of Ballina.

A partial registration number was taken and it was traced to a foreign national who was subsequently arrested.

Tiernan's involvement later came to light. Det. Garda McHale said Tiernan ran a wood-flooring business in Dromore West at the time which had come on hard times.

Tiernan knew Mrs Scott well and had passed on information about her.

In reply to Judge Keenan Johnson, the Garda said it wasn't clear how Tiernan had got involved with the three men who had travelled from Dublin and who had no connection with the area at all.

In December 2012, Det. Garda McHale spoke with Tiernan who admitted the men stayed in his house the night before the robbery and that he also knew of the plan the next day.

Tiernan had alcohol difficulties in the past but was sober for the 18 months up to the incident.

In a Victim Impact report presented to the court and read by Det. Garda McHale, Mrs Scott said she knew Tiernan and his family very well and could not get over the fact he would do something like that to her.

Her confidence was knocked and she couldn't pass out a car without being afraid.

She could not figure out why Tiernan did what he did and she pointed out that he hadn't apologised.

Mr Colm Smyth SC (defending) with Keith O'Grady BL and McGovern Walsh Solicitors, told the court how Tiernan in his interview with Gardai said he was doing a deal with a man over a generator and it came up about the amount of robberies that were happening in the area at the time.

Tiernan said to the man that it was a wonder Liam Scott's wife wasn't robbed, that she brought dole money every week unguarded.

This man said he knew people who would rob it and Tiernan replied good, that he would take half of it.

Tiernan said he was joking, that he had no notion of robbing her or anyone else.

Tiernan was told there would be a few bob in it for everyone. Tiernan later got a phonecall to say the robbery would take place the next day.

Det. Garda McHale said it would be fair enough to say that Tiernan was in fear of these people.

Mr Smyth said Tiernan had suffered from depression and alcoholism in the past.

He was currently working as a flooring contractor in Dublin.

"It's an amazing fall from grace," said Mr Smyth.

Mr Smyth said he was asked me to say that Tiernan regretted deeply what happened and is full of remorse and sorrow for what happened.

"He realises he has brought great scandal on himself and his family.

"He gained no reward from this. It was a botched robbery.He's an isolated figure in many respects though two of his children are in court with him today," said Mr Smyth.

He added that Tiernan had €2,500 in court as compensation.

Judge Johnson said Tiernan had acted as a facilitator providing information on Mrs Scott's movements.

He had got sucked into the matter without wanting to be part of it after jokingly mentioning to another man about robbing the post mistress.

The Judge noted that Tiernan had failed to notify Gardai however.

It was a very serious matter and it was a despicable crime.

He said Mrs Scott was providing a valuable service in the West of Ireland and this type of incident gave an excuse for such services to be closed.

The hurt of the post mistress was compounded by the fact it was a friend and neighbour of hers who was involved.

Judge Johnson complimented Mrs Scott's bravery, holding on to the money having been run off the road.

Tiernan was given a three year jail sentence, suspended for three years.

He was also ordered to enter a bond to keep the peace for three years and to pay Mrs Scott €2,500 by December 31st next.

He must also write Mrs Scott what the Judge said must be a "fulsome letter of apology" within one month.

Sligo Champion