Four sentenced for violent robbery

Naas Circuit Court

Four men who rammed Garda cars in a getaway attempt after a violent robbery have been sentenced to jail for up to three and a half years in Naas Circuit Court.

Detective Garda Jenette Butler told the court that a ‘stinger’ device was used to stop the car in which the thieves were making their getaway, and three cars were damaged.

The court heard how the incident began when five men, two of them wearing balaclavas, entered the Gala shop near Athy at 8.15pm on 16 November 2006.

Ann Grufferty (15) was working in the shop when she was grabbed and pulled by one of the men. A screwdriver was pressed against her spine, leading to severe bruising.

Shop owner Brendan Canavan heard noises, and pressed an alarm button before two men wearing balaclavas burst into his office, one carrying a sledge hammer.

“Where’s the money, where’s the bloody money?” they demanded.

The robbers grabbed Mr Canavan, punched him in the face, forced him to open a safe, then made their escape with €9175 in cash and a quantity of cigarettes.

A female customer was also held during the robbery, and Mr Canavan read out the registration number of a green Volvo to her as soon as the thieves left. She then dialled 999.

An hour after the robbery, a detective Garda spotted a car fitting the description driving dangerously, although it had a different registration number.

Other Gardai ahead used a stinger device to stop the car, which drove over the stinger and collided with a civilian car, causing Gardai to take evasive action.

The thieves’ car then glanced off one Garda car and rammed a second before coming to a stop.

Summing up, Judge Michael O’Shea said that this was not a spontaneous robbery, but was well planned.

“All of the men were “equally and jointly involved in the plan and in the robbery.”

Three of the men, Myles Connors (37) of 6 Glenshane Lawns, Tallaght, Dublin 22, William Connors (33) of 16 Oak Road, Newbridge, Co Kildare, and Daniel Connors (26) 8 Fortunestown Crescent, Tallaght, were sentenced to three and a half years each, while Thomas Kiely (22) Kilbarry Cottages, Old Mallow Road, Blackpool, Co Cork received a two year sentence.

The court was told that Mr Kiely, a married father of two, was only 19 at the time of the robbery, and under the influence of older men, two of whom were his maternal uncles. Afterwards, he had returned to his family home in Cork “away from the danger of trouble.

Myles Connors, the oldest of the gang, was married with five children aged between seven and 17, the court was told. A settled Traveller, he was currently unemployed, but had completed a FAS course as a market stall operator in 2006. William Connor was also married with three children between ten months and three years of age. Daniel Connors was married with two children aged five and seven.

A fifth man will be sentenced for the same offence in June.