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Gang appeal their jail time over tiger kidnapping of Dublin family

The three men had pleaded not guilty to false imprisonment.

A 2005 image of the Securicor depot in Rialto
A 2005 image of the Securicor depot in Rialto
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

A GANG INVOLVED in the tiger kidnapping of a Dublin family and robbery of €2.08 million from a cash-in-transit van 14 years ago have moved to appeal their convictions.

Mark Farrelly (48), David Byrne (46) and Niall Byrne (37) had pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of the Richardson family at their Dublin home in Ashcroft, Raheny and of robbing Securicor of €2.08 million on March 14, 2005.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that the Richardson family home was raided by a gang that forced Richardson to go to work the next day while his wife Marie and their teenage sons were held at gunpoint in the Dublin mountains.

Farrelly of Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock, was considered to be the “mastermind” of the gang and was sentenced to 17-and-a-half years imprisonment by Judge Melanie Greally last year. His phone was used to coordinate the movements of the various gang members.

David Byrne, of Old Brazil Way, Knocksedan, in Swords, was one of the two men who was in the jeep that brought the Richardsons to the mountains. He was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years by Judge Greally last year.

Former Securicor worker, Niall Byrne, of Crumlin Road Flats, in Dublin, was considered to be the “inside man” in the gang and had been convicted of conspiracy to rob. Judge Melanie Greally sentenced him to 10 years imprisonment. 

Christopher Corcoran (72), with an address in Rosedale, Raheny was said to be the “scout” during the kidnapping, driving ahead of the van to make sure nobody interrupted the process. He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment following the same trial but has not sought to appeal his conviction.

The trial which resulted in the present appeal began in January 2018 and was the fifth time the case came before the courts.

Mobile phone data

Farrelly, David Byrne and Niall Byrne moved to appeal their convictions today on grounds primarily related to the gathering of mobile phone data by gardaí.

Counsel for David Byrne, John Fitzgerald SC, said gardai obtained records of all phone calls made from the Dublin mountains under 1993 legislation that had been “replaced” by 2005 legislation a week earlier.

He said gardaí used an outdated statutory mechanism that wasn’t designed for this purpose at all, as mobile phones weren’t in existence back then. The 1993 legislation never envisaged the type of data created by mobile phones such as the nature, duration and location of the communication, as mobile phones were not around back then.

The trial judge agreed with the defence that an incorrect legal framework was applied but the evidence wasn’t excluded as it was not deemed to have been a deliberate breach of the accused’s rights.

Fitzgerald said the prosecution successfully argued that the evidence should not be excluded in line with the 2015 Supreme Court case of ‘JC’, which relaxed rules on the gathering of evidence for criminal trials.

He said the exclusionary rule for evidence as set down in ‘JC’ required “elaboration” and “this may be one of those cases”.

The court heard that the leading challenge to retention of data, involving convicted murderer Graham Dwyer, is due to be heard by the Supreme Court in December. Dwyer obtained from the High Court a declaration that Irish legislation governing the retention of data breached EU law.

President of the Court of Appeal Mr Justice George Birmingham commented that the judgment in the present appeal may have to await the outcome in ‘Dwyer’.

Counsel for Farrelly, Ciaran O’Loughlin SC, said the old legislation was never designed for the kind of data harvested in this case. It was legislation introduced to prevent people from eavesdropping and to prohibit “phone tapping”.

It beggared belief, he said, that senior gardaí were not aware that a statute had recently been introduced in 2005 to harvest the data they wanted.

He submitted that the evidence ought not to have been admitted, and that the courts should learn against the admission of unconstitutionally obtained evidence.

Counsel for Niall Byrne, Feargal Kavanagh SC, said the evidence should not have been admitted because the prosecution failed to establish that it was cogent and probative evidence. The mobile phone data did not relate to his client, he added.

Counsel for the Director of Public Prosecutions, Dominic McGinn SC, will make replying submissions today before Mr Justice George Birmingham, Mr Justice Patrick McCarthy and Ms Justice Isobel Kennedy.

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Ruaidhrí Giblin

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