Lucan: Cash Van Robbers Were Under Garda Surveillance

16 May

By J. P. Anderson:

A NUMBER of the men involved in yesterday’s foiled cash robbery had been under close surveillance by Garda specialist units after they were implicated in a series of armed robberies in recent months in which over €8 million was stolen.

The surveillance operation, carried out by the National Surveillance Unit (NSU) and National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI), unearthed intelligence that led gardaí to Foxborough, Lucan, Dublin, yesterday.

The NBCI and the Organised Crime Unit (OCU) knew a gang of men from Dublin’s north inner city and Lucan were planning to stage an armed robbery.

The target was a G4S cash-in-transit van, carrying €1 million that was delivering money to an ATM in a Centra shop on Foxborough Road in the Foxborough housing estate.

Members of the NBCI, OCU and Emergency Response Unit were waiting in unmarked cars in the streets around the Centra shop. When the G4S van arrived just before noon, two masked men got out of their car and approached the crew of the van.

They threatened the crew and discharged at least one shot from a sawn-off shotgun. At that point the armed gardaí moved in.

According to Garda sources, the gardaí at the scene shouted that they were armed and told the armed raider to drop his weapon.

When the armed man did not comply, one of the gardaí fired five shots, wounding both of the raiders, the sources said.

The wounded men were taken to Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown. One of them, 28-year-old Gareth Molloy from Sheriff Street, Dublin, died at the hospital.

The other man, a 26-year-old with an address near Sheriff Street, underwent surgery throughout yesterday. He is seriously ill.

When gardaí appeared at the scene and tackled the two men, three others in a second vehicle sped away. They were pursued into the adjacent Foxdene estate where their car was stopped and they were arrested.

A fourth man was arrested in a car a short distance away. The men, all in their 20s, were being questioned last night at Lucan and Ronanstown Garda stations.

They are being detained under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act. Two of them are cousins from a well-known criminal family in the north inner city.

One was arrested in February when €7.6 million was stolen during a robbery of the Bank of Ireland in College Green, Dublin. The other cousin is a suspect in at least three recent robberies of cash-in-transit vans in which substantial sums were stolen.

It was the Garda’s surveillance of the cousins that led officers to the scene of yesterday’s attempted raid. The other two men arrested are from the Foxdene estate and are regarded as minor criminal figures.

Local people at the scene of yesterday’s incident said they were shocked by the events in what they described as a very quiet estate.

A 26-year-old man who did not want to be named said he was in the Centra shop when the shooting took place outside. He said he heard shouting and then what he thought were gun shots.

“I just went in to get credit for my phone. I heard the bangs and I thought it was a gun. When I came out two of them [the raiders] were on the ground. I thought one of them looked dead but there were guards all over the place so it was hard to get a look at them.”

The man said the area was sealed off immediately the shooting occurred and that the injured men were given medical attention at the scene.

Another resident said she heard gardaí shouting to a raider to drop his weapon before she heard a burst of gunfire.

THE SIX-man gang that took part in yesterday’s robbery in Lucan, Dublin, was led by two cousins from the north inner city.

The men, who were under arrest last night, are related to a major gangland figure and have themselves, become Ireland’s most prolific armed robbers in recent years.

The man shot dead yesterday was Gareth Molloy. The 28-year-old from lower Sheriff St in Dublin’s north inner city was known to gardaí, but would not have been regarded as a major gangland player.

One Garda source described him as a “fairly minor figure in recent years” and said he was surprised Molloy was involved in yesterday’s raid.

In 1998, aged 17, Molloy was jailed for five years for robbery. In 2003 he was given a six year sentence for firearms offences, with all but 18 months suspended. He underwent a drug treatment programme after his release.

Molloy was associated with a number of criminals who have been embroiled in a gangland feud in the north inner city which has so far claimed three lives.

Four years ago he carried out a robbery in the IFSC with one of the feuding criminals in which a bar worker was shot in the back of the head but survived.

The raider who was wounded yesterday and is seriously ill in hospital is a 26-year-old man with an address just off Sheriff St. He was jailed for three years in 2006 for road traffic offences.

He was also before the courts in 2006 on firearms offences. That case was discontinued by the State although the reasons the charges were withdrawn are unclear.

Two of the four men arrested yesterday are cousins in their 20s. They are related to a well-known armed robber from the north inner city that has made a major settlement with the Criminal Assets Bureau.

The cousins are the best known of yesterday’s gang and are seen as the leaders of the group.

One of them was arrested for questioning about the robbery of €7.6 million from the Bank of Ireland, College Green, Dublin, in February. The money was stolen after the family of a bank worker was held hostage.

The man was also questioned in February about the shooting dead in Finglas in 2007 of Derek Duffy. The petty criminal was shot in the head five times as he sat in his car. An effort was made to set his car on fire with his remains inside.

The suspect is active in the drugs trade as well as armed robbery and associates with Irish drug dealers in southern Spain.

The other cousin being questioned last night is the chief suspect in a stabbing murder. He is also suspected of being behind a number of robberies almost identical to yesterday’s foiled raid.

He was arrested last month in connection with an armed raid in East Wall when a shot was fired at a cash-in-transit van worker delivering money to a post office.

He was also a suspect for another raid in Clontarf, north Dublin, last July when a crew member of a cash-in-transit van was shot at. The other two men being questioned are minor criminal figures from Foxdene in Lucan close to the scene of yesterday’s attempted raid.

Officials from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) will carry out door-to-door inquiries today over a foiled armed robbery in which a raider was shot dead yesterday by undercover gardaí.

Gareth Molloy (28) was shot down and another man wounded as five men attempted a midday heist outside a shop in Lucan, west Dublin.

Gardaí moved in as the men, including at least one armed with a sawn-off shotgun, targeted a cash-in-transit crew delivering money to an ATM in the busy Centra store in Foxborough Road.

Four men later arrested in connection with the raid were taken to Garda stations in Lucan and Ronanstown for questioning under Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act.

Garda Ombudsman investigators examined the robbery scene yesterday and are examining three cars used by the gang. The commission’s staff also attended the postmortem on Molloy’s body last night that was carried out by State Pathologist Dr Marie Cassidy.

A Garda spokesman said members of the force would co-operate fully with the GSOC inquiry.

An incident room has also been set up at the Garda Ombudsman’s offices in Abbey Street in central Dublin.

Senior Garda officers from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation are leading a criminal investigation under Assistant Commissioner Derek Byrne.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has been briefed on the incident by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy. Mr Ahern said that while any loss of life was regrettable, the Garda had the full support of the public in confronting armed gangs.

“Today’s incident is a reminder of the dangers faced by members of An Garda Síochána in carrying out their duties and their courage in confronting those dangers.”

One of the men shot was carrying a sawn-off shotgun, which he had discharged seconds before he was shot by gardaí. The men who were shot are from Dublin’s north inner city. Four others were under arrest last night. The gang tried to rob a G4S cash-in-transit van delivering money to an ATM in a Centra shop in Lucan, Co Dublin, at noon.

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