Graig armed robber jailed for four years


Murphy's Jewllers in Kilkenny.

A DISTURBED young man who robbed almost half a million euro worth of jewellery and then engaged in a siege with Gardai for a number of hours was sentenced to four years in prison at Kilkenny Circuit Court.

Liam Foley, 22 Woodlands Estate, Graiguenamanagh, pleaded guilty to robbery at Murphy's Jewellers in Kilkenny on March 7. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a nine milimetre firearm at Murphy's Jewellers and to possession of a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver, six deactivated pistols, a deactivated rifle and an assortment of unlawful firearm competent parts. He also pleaded guilty to possession of ammunition at his home at 22 Woodlawns Estate on the same date.

Detective Garda Patrick Starr told the court that on the morning of the incident Foley left his home at 7.45 a.m. and caught a bus to Kilkenny arriving in the city before 9 a.m. At the time he was in possession of a semi-automatic pistol and seven rounds of ammunition.

The defendant went into the Castle Park and loaded the gun. He put on a different jacket and a balaclava above his head and put magazines in his pockets with bullets in them.

Then he walked down to High Street and walked up and down outside Murphy's Jewellers before going in. There were two sales assistants in the shop. One of them saw him with the balaclava on him and screamed and ran upstairs.

Foley went in behind the display unit behind the front window and fired into the unit to break the lock.

The second sales assistant saw the gun and ran down to the basement. Foley started filling his rucksack with jewellery and while he was doing so a second shot was fired.

The second shot is believed to have been discharged accidentally and it travelled down through the floor into the basement and hit some cardboard. Fragments of the cardboard hit the second sales assistant frightening her.

Foley left the jewellers and the Gardaí were contacted. Gardaí went to the shop and viewed CCTV footage and also spoke to a taxi man who said that he had dropped a young man to Graiguenamanagh. Gardaí obtained a search warrant and went to Liam Foley's house where they met his father who told them that his son was in his bedroom. Gardaí went upstairs and discovered Foley locked into his bedroom.

'The next three hours were like a siege situation. Foley said he was in possession of two firearms and that he was feeling suicidal and that he intended on using the guns on himself,' Detective Starr told the court. Foley also asked to speak to his GP and to a priest.

Foley's doctor, Dr Helly, arrived and gave his patient two antidepressants. Shortly before 10 p.m. Foley told Gardaí that he was disarming himself and came out of his room of his own accord and spoke to his parents and doctor before being brought to a psychiatric ward by Gardaí.

He remained under the care of the Department of Psychiatry until March 10 when he was arrested by Gardaí. He has remained in custody since his arrest.

Meanwhile Gardaí carried out a search of Foley's home in the interim and found an arsenal of guns and bullets and materials from the internet about shoot outs, massacres and robberies. There were also two tapes from camcorders recording himself experimenting with explosives. Gardaí seized nine handguns, including two working guns and seven deactivated guns. They also recovered 2,521 bullets and 1,381 discharged bullets. A large quantity of jewellery was also recovered.

Detective Starr told the court that in the weeks leading up to the robbery Foley had visited the jewellery shop and knew where most of the valuable goods were. In total ¤ 468,060, worth of jewellery was stolen. To date ¤ 429,780 has been recovered.

At around 3 p.m. of the day of the robbery Foley posted engagement rings worth ¤19,000 to a dealer in Northern Ireland who deals in decommissioned guns. The rings were intercepted by police. They are five rings still missing totalling ¤19,095. Foley asked to take the stand and apologised to the sales assistants for the incident.

Judge Olive Buttimer sentenced the 24-year-old to four years in prison backdating the sentence until March.