'Stupid' criminal jailed for botched robbery

Thursday 16 February 2012 22.29
Gary Byrne was given the 'benefit of his stupidity' by Judge Donagh McDonagh
Gary Byrne was given the 'benefit of his stupidity' by Judge Donagh McDonagh

A robber who "ranks amongst the all-time stupidest criminals to come before the courts" has been jailed for a botched armed robbery where the raiders had to be rescued by the fire brigade.

Gary Byrne, 30, left the scene of the robbery, a gold storage business, with the keys to the safe, locking the shutters behind him.

His two accomplices, Ian Jordan, 33, and Aidan Murphy, 32, were trapped inside with two staff members who had been bound and gagged during the raid.

Byrne, of Edenmore Crescent, Raheny, was convicted by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury last month following an eight-day trial.

He was sentenced to seven years in prison after he was found guilty of attempted robbery, possession of an imitation firearm and two counts of false imprisonment at the Bullion Room, Bolton Street, Dublin on 10 August 2010. Byrne had denied all the charges.

Jordan of Belclare Grove, Ballymun, and Murphy of Stag Park Avenue, Mitchelstown, Co Cork, were each jailed for five years by Judge Martin Nolan earlier this year after they pleaded guilty to the same offences.

Judge Donagh McDonagh described it as "one of the most farcical cases in recent criminal history in Dublin" and said Byrne "ranks amongst the all time stupidest criminals to come before the courts".

He said he would give him the "benefit of his stupidity" and suspended the final two years of the sentence after acknowledging that Byrne, with his one previous conviction for assault, was "not a hardened criminal".

"It was a well-researched but indifferently-planned operation. They knew the business owner's schedule well and raided her premises at the most vulnerable time," Judge McDonagh said.

He said he wholeheartedly agreed with the jury's verdict and praised the "excellent work" of the gardaí and "excellent intervention" of a passer-by who realised a robbery was taking place and alerted the gardaí.

"It would be easy to consider this whole episode a farce if it were not for the fact that two innocent people were treated in this manner. As far as they were concerned this was the real thing," Judge McDonagh said in reference to the fact that the raiders had an imitation firearm.

"One thing is for sure his (Byrne's) ineptitude and stupidity does not, in any way, reduce his culpability," the judge said.

He commented that for "some unknown reason" Byrne left the premises and locked the shutters behind him, leaving his accomplices "to emerge with their hands up and surrendering themselves to gardaí" after being rescued by the fire brigade.

Detective Garda Brian Quirke told Vincent Heneghan, BL, prosecuting, that Byrne was effectively the getaway driver in the raid and he left Bolton Street in the blue Ford Courier van the gang had earlier arrived in.

He later abandoned this and dumped the hard hat, high-visibility jacket and purple gloves he had been wearing in a bush.

Byrne was arrested following extensive analysis of CCTV footage. His fingerprints were later found on the hard hat and he was also captured on CCTV cameras buying that hat on the morning of the robbery.

He made no comment during his subsequent garda interviews.

Garda Quirke said the Bullion Room has since closed down. He said the company had traded in precious metals and was not open to the general public. It usually had about €40,000 to €50,000 in cash on the premises and gold to the value of €400,000 or €500,000.

Garda Quirke agreed with John Peart SC, defending, that Byrne has not come to garda attention since his arrest and confirmed that he was never in possession of the gun.