Man caught with €600k of drugs and stolen art was involved in two cash in transit robberies and a burglary

Jonathon Rafferty
Jonathon Rafferty

A career criminal and one time taxi driver was caught with €600,000 of drugs and stolen art when his apartment was searched after he was involved in a cash-in-transit robbery has been jailed for seven and a half years.

Jonathan Rafferty (38) was later involved in a second cash in transit robbery as well as a burglary which ended in the getaway car ramming two vehicles in an attempt to escape.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Rafferty was using cocaine every day at the time of the offences and was under “significant pressure” due to a €6,000 “drug debt.”

Rafferty, of Brookview Lawn, Tallaght, Dubliln pleaded guilty to robbery of a security cash box containing €19,000 and possession of an imitation firearm at Cookstown Road, Tallaght on October 21, 2013.

He further pleaded guilty to possession of cannabis resin and cannabis herb and of stolen artwork at Hazel Grove Court, Tallaght on October 26, 2013.

He also admitted robbery of a second security cash box containing €230 and possession of an imitation firearm at Cheeverstown Luas Stop, Tallaght on March 21, 2014.

Finally, Rafferty pleaded guilty to burglary at Sunrise Dry Cleaner, City West Business Park on February 10, 2015. He also admitted dangerous driving and criminal damage to a car on the same occasion.

Judge Patricia Ryan noted Rafferty had not become involved in criminal activity until his late twenties after developing a cocaine habit. She noted he had made efforts to rehabilitate himself and had not come to any further garda attention.

Judge Ryan imposed consecutive sentences totaling eleven years and suspended three and a half years of the total term.

Rafferty, who has 12 previous convictions, had written a letter of apology to the court.

At the first sentence hearing last April Colm O'Briain SC, defending, said his client's involvement in the offences had arisen from drug use which led to a drug debt and onwards to criminal activity.

He said Rafferty had left school early and gone into full time work restoring kitchens before becoming a taxi driver. He developed a serious cocaine habit around 2004 which led to personal and financial difficulties and the loss of his taxi.

Mr O'Briain said Rafferty was drawn deeper and deeper into drug usage and began accruing convictions. He had previously attempted to address his drug problem but relapsed and was under significant pressure at the time of the cash in transit robberies.

Garda Michael McGrath told Tony McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that the first cash in transit robbery occurred in October 2013 when a G4S security staff member was collecting a cash box from a Tallaght pub.

He saw two males, one armed with a gun, run towards him shouting. He put the cash box on the ground and his hands in the air. The man pointed the gun at him and grabbed the cash box which contained approximately €19,000.

Gardai recovered CCTV from the area and on foot of confidential information obtained search warrants for Rafferty's house and an apartment.

Six days after the robbery at the house in Brookview Lawns gardai found €275 in ink stained cash on Rafferty and further cash in a chest of drawers. Rafferty took responsibility for both but no further cash was found.

During the investigation gardai also recovered footage of Rafferty entering an apartment at Hazel Grove Court on several days and on some of the footage he was seen carrying items inside.

Later that day at the apartment gardai recovered cannabis resin and cannabis herb with a combined value of €630,000. They also found mops, a drill, sponges, colour catchers and a toolbox missing a saw.

Glass vases, a sculpture and other items stolen from a Foxrock art gallery were also there.

During the search a car drove into the apartment complex with Rafferty as a front seat passenger. As gardai approached it reversed at speed and Rafferty escaped. He “went to ground” and spent some time in the UK.

The cash box was later recovered from the Bohernabreena reservoir. It had been cut open with a saw.

Garda David Morris said that on March 21, 2014 Rafferty took part in a second cash in transit robbery at Cheeverstown Luas stop. The security guard was approached by two men with a “strange looking” gun and put the cash box on the ground as it was company policy not to struggle.

The men fled the area in a stolen Toyota Avensis with the cash box containing €230.

A few days later Rafferty was arrested at Brookview Lawns and interviewed by gardai.

In relation to the first cash in transit robbery he said it had been decided to rob the cash box and he had used a toy gun. He said he had tried to clean the security dye from the money afterwards with window cleaner and the colour catchers but had not been able to wash it all.

He told gardai he had been under a €6,000 drug debt at the time and did not realise the value of the drugs which he said he had been holding at the apartment for one week.

In relation to the second cash in transit robbery he told gardai he was under pressure to get money and had again used a toy gun. He said he had smashed the box open.

He told gardai he would not say who else was involved because he was in fear for his life.

Gda McGrath said Rafferty was arrested at the City West Business Park following a burglary at the Sunrise Dry Cleaners in February 2015.

An employee in a neighbouring business had seen Rafferty and a second man breaking into the premises and called security who saw the men leaving in a silver BMW. A jeep blocked the exit to the park and was rammed by the BMW which then reversed and rammed a second car behind them.

Two men exited the car and ran off. As Rafferty got out of the BMW he was restrained at the scene and arrested when gardai arrived.