Three men caught red handed when gardai foiled the armed robbery of a cash in transit van in Dunboyne Co Meath two years ago were given ten year sentences at Trim Circuit Court yesterday (Tues)
Both 39 year old Francis Murphy of Carranstown, Drogheda Rd., Duleek, and 40 year old Stefan Saunders with an address at Hazelbury Park Clonee pleaded guilty to conspiring on dates between 26th Aug 2016 and 7th Oct 2016 to commit robbery and carrying an 8mm Makarov handgun at Yeats Centre, Navan Road, Dunboyne on or about 7th Oct 2016 with intention to commit robbery.
The third man 32 year old Damien Noonan of Rusheeney Court, Hartstown, Co Dublin admitted the conspiracy charge and also possession of a stolen BMW on 7th Oct 2016 at Navan Rd., Dunboyne.
The court heard that gardai had monitored the gang's movements as they planned a would be €2m robbery.
Det. Supt. Justin Kelly told prosecuting counsel Shane Costello SC that gardai had Saunders and Noonan under surveillance on four Fridays in August and September 2016 as the pair drove from Dublin to Dunboyne where they watched from a coffee shop as a cash in transit van made deliveries at an ATM machine at a disused building across the street.
On three other dates the defendants tampered with a window and an alarm in the ATM room so they would be able break in undetected.
The court heard the room had a movement sensor alarm but the gang pushed it up under a ceiling tile so it would still appear to be working but would not detect movements in the room.
On the day of the planned raid Noonan left Dublin at 2.30 am and drove his two accomplices to Dunboyne.
Noonan then helped the two men climb in the window of the ATM room where the pair lay in wait for a security van carrying two million euro in cash.
Gardai were able to listen to the gang's conversations with surveillance technology and were aware they were armed the court heard.
While en route to Dunboyne the drivers of the cash van and it's tailing vehicle were warned by gardai to stay in their cabs when they arrived in the town.
When the van arrived armed gardai burst in to the ATM room and arrested Saunders and Murphy while Noonan was detained nearby in the BMW.
Gardai saw Saunders throw a loaded hand gun into the centre of the room before he put his hands up and went down on his knees.
All three defendants had walkie talkies and mobile phones and wore hoods double sets of latex gloves as well as several layers of clothing while Saunders also wore body armour.
A bottle of bleach was to be used by the gang to destroy any forensic evidence according to the superintendent.
Neither Saunders nor Noonan answered gardai when they were later questioned however Murphy told gardai he had made 'a huge mistake' before adding:'you know full well what I was doing'.
Judge Michael O'Shea said it had been a very professional, planned and organised crime up to the arrival of the cash in transit van and noted that the gun which was capable of firing blanks would have been used to frighten the cash in transit staff.
Judge O'Shea sentenced all three men to ten years with two and a half years suspended with time also allowed for the months they have spent in custody since their arrest on the 7th of Oct 2016.
Commenting following the hearing Det. Supt. Seamus Boland head of the Garda Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau said the case showed that gardai will deploy resources to target those willing to commit such crimes.