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Judge says victims of tiger kidnapping deserve 'enormous respect' as she jails men for total of 52 years

This was the fifth time the case went to trial.

The securicor depot in Rialto where Mr Richardson was ordered to go to work as normal.
The securicor depot in Rialto where Mr Richardson was ordered to go to work as normal.
Image: Leon Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Updated Jul 16th 2018, 7:33 PM

A JUDGE HAS said that a family of four, who were the victims of a tiger kidnapping, are deserving of “enormous respect” for their “uncommon and unbending faith in the criminal justice system”.

Judge Melanie Greally made the remarks as she sentenced four men to a total of 53 years for their various roles in the €2.08 million cash-in-transit van robbery, during which Paul Richardson’s family home was raided and he and his family were threatened at gunpoint.

Last May, Mark Farrelly (47), Christopher Corcoran (71), David Byrne (45) and Niall Byrne (36) were convicted by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury.

The trial heard that the Richardson’s home was raided one Sunday evening. The gang forced him to go to work the next day while his wife Marie and their teenage sons, Ian and Kevin were held at gunpoint in the Dublin mountains until he had delivered the cash to a car park in west Dublin.

This trial, which began in January 2018, was the fifth time the case went to trial.

Judge Greally said that the raiders “burst” into the Richardson’s home on “a normal Sunday evening” and used differing items to conceal their identities, including makeshift balaclavas using a school jumper and a pillowcase belonging to the family.

Referring to the victim impact reports, Judge Greally said; “It is clear to me that this normal and happy family had their lives upended by the actions of the accused. All sense of normality, security and joy was replaced by fear, anxiety, anger and frustration.”

She said the number of trials the family have been required to relive has made their recovery “excessively difficult”.

“Their uncommon and unbending faith in the criminal justice system is worth enormous respect,” Judge Greally said.

The judge said it was “a fortuitous twist of faith that secured the family’s freedom” after a small knife was discovered on one of the boy’s keyrings, enabling them to break the cable ties that bound them together in the remote location where they had been left by the gang.

Judge Greally said Richardson complied with all the gang’s instructions and was relying on a walkie-talkie system with the robbers to confirm that his family were safe.

“No such communication was received,” the judge said referring to previous evidence that having dropped off the cash, Richardson drove the van very slowly to ensure he didn’t go out of range with the walkie-talkie system. She said he was “ultimately provided with the desperately sought communication that his family were safe” from Securicor.

She noted that a phone call between Paul and Marie Richardson, while she and their sons were being driven to the mountains, was “a critical starting point in the garda investigation”.

“It was ultimately the key to the detection of the accused,” Judge Greally said.

She later concluded her sentencing remarks by commending the work of the gardaí, “for their professionals and commitment to this complex and demanding case”.

In May, Dubliners Mark Farrelly (47), Christopher Corcoran (71), David Byrne (45) and Niall Byrne (36) were convicted by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury.

The trial heard that Paul Richardson’s home was raided and he, his wife, Marie and their two teenage sons, Ian and Kevin, were threatened at gunpoint. The gang forced Mr Richardson to go to work the next day while Marie, Ian and Kevin were held at gunpoint in the Dublin mountains until he had delivered the cash to a car park in west Dublin.

This trial, which began in January 2018, was the fifth time the case went to trial.

Today judge Melanie Greally sentenced former Securicor worker Niall Byrne to 10 years in prison. He was considered the “inside man” in the gang and had been convicted of conspiracy to rob. The jury was unable to reach a majority verdict in relation to a charge of kidnapping against him.

The jury convicted Mark Farrelly, Christopher Corcoran and David Byrne of robbery and false imprisonment of the four Richardsons.

Mastermind

Farrelly, who was considered the mastermind of the gang, was sentenced to 17 and a half years. His phone was used to co-ordinate the movements of the various gang members.

Corcoran, who was a scout during the kidnapping, driving ahead of the van to make sure nobody interrupted the process of the kidnap, was sentenced to 12 years with the final five suspended.

David Byrne, who was one of the two men who was in the jeep that brought the Richardsons to the mountains, was sentenced to 13 and a half years.

Mark Farrelly of Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock, Christopher Corcoran of Rosedale, Raheny, David Byrne of Old Brazil Way, Knocksedan, Swords and Niall Byrne of Crumlin Road Flats had all pleaded not guilty to robbing Mr Richardson and Securicor of €2.08 million on 14 March, 2005 and to the false imprisonment of the Richardson family at their home at Ashcroft, Raheny on 13 and 14 March, 2005.

Justice

Paul Richardson read his victim impact statement during a sentencing hearing last Monday. He described the crime as “heinous and inhumane” and said it was committed for “one reason only, greed”.

He said he spent his 60th birthday in court, having just given his sworn testimony for the fifth time. He said he could not leave the court after giving his evidence because he promised his family “I would keep going until justice prevailed”.

“I lost a part of my life that night and I will never get it back,” Mr Richardson said before he added that the most important thing in life was “family and love”.

He said he and his family were terrorised and instead of being “in our home safe and warm” his wife and children were brought out “in the darkest of night and held against their will”.

Mr Richardson said the raiders had “no regard for the damage they caused” and said they never contacted him by walkie-talkie, as they had promised, to tell him his family were safe.

Marie, Ian and Kevin Richardson also described in victim impact statements, read into court by Seamus Clarke SC, how the kidnapping affected their own lives.

Marie said the home they had made “for ourselves and our boys” was destroyed that night. She said she had go back to work full-time as her husband struggled and was unable to go back to work for three years.

“I took a stand that we would rebuild our lives. I had to push the family along. It was very hard being strong for everyone,” Mrs Richardson said. She said it was very hard leaving Paul at home alone, while she went to work, because she was “not sure what he would do”.

Like the plague

Kevin Richardson, who was 13 years old when his home was raided, said that for the last 13 years he had been asked to bring back memories, before many different jurors, memories that he hoped would be erased.

He said that night had followed him “like the plague”, he would wake up shouting in his sleep and said his life had been disrupted.

He said he had been willing to sacrifice his friends, following the kidnapping, to move home, “for a new setting”. “This is not something a 13-year-old should be thinking,” he concluded before he added that “a network of strong supportive people have helped me”.

Ian Richardson’s victim impact statement, said the look of fear in the eyes of his father, mother and brother would never leave him. He said his schooling suffered, as did his relationships with his family and friends.

“The image of a gun being put to me will never leave me,” Ian Richardson said before he added that having to give evidence five times was like “opening a wound over and over and salt being rubbed in it”.

He said during the kidnapping there were times he worried he would never see his Dad again.

“No one should be made feel like that because of greed and lack of humanity,” he concluded.

Appeal

Farrelly and Corcoran were convicted and jailed in 2009 but were released in 2012 after the convictions were overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal on the back of a Supreme Court ruling that search warrants used in this and other investigations were unconstitutional.

In 2015 Farrelly and Corcoran were acquitted of all charges when Judge Mary Ellen Ring ruled that the State could not use the mobile phone evidence. A year later the Court of Appeal said Judge Ring was mistaken and overturned the acquittals. Kavanagh was convicted again in 2013.

The court heard that Farrelly, a married man with five children, had 25 previous convictions for offences including robbery and theft.

Corcoran, who is a separated man with adult children, had worked most of his life with Telecom Eireann. He had five previous convictions for minor road traffic offences and intoxication.

David Byrne, a father of three who had recently separated from his wife, had been a taxi driver but now works with a film studio in Bray.

Niall Byrne, a married man with four children, has worked as a taxi driver since his dismissal from Securicor. He has three previous convictions for road traffic offences.

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Sonya McClean

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