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The heist king of Ireland: Man cleared of €2.8 million Tiger raid is held in new cash raid swoop

NewsBy Alan Sherry
Gardai swooped on a van containing three men in which a loaded firearm, other weapons and a balaclava was found
Gardai swooped on a van containing three men in which a loaded firearm, other weapons and a balaclava was found

A man previously cleared of tiger kidnapping charges was among seven people arrested by armed gardai ahead of a suspected armed robbery in Dublin on Friday.

Mark Farrelly (43), from Moatview Court, Priorswood, Coolock, was convicted in 2009 of kidnapping cash-in-transit worker Paul Richardson and his family during a €2.28million robbery. 

He was sentenced to 25 years, but was freed in 2012 when his conviction was overturned by the Court of Criminal Appeal following a Supreme Court ruling that search warrants used in the case and several other cases were unconstitutional. 

He faced a retrial in December 2013 which ended with a hung jury. 

Just two months ago a judge directed a jury to find him not guilty following a “dramatic” ruling that mobile phone records cannot be used as evidence in the case. 

However, Farrelly and two of his relatives were among seven men arrested in Artane in north Dublin on Friday, after gardai pounced on a gang they suspected were about to carry out a cash-in-transit raid on a Brinks security van. 

It is understood the van was carrying around €200,000. Gardai swooped on a van containing three men in which a loaded firearm, other weapons and a balaclava was found.

Farrelly was arrested in nearby car along with two other men. Sources say Farrelly “nearly s**t himself” when armed officers swooped on his car. 

“He got a serious fright when he was surrounded by armed officers pointing guns in his face,” said a source. 

Another man was arrested nearby.

 Sources say Farrelly “nearly s**t himself” when armed officers swooped on his car. 

Farrelly has six previous convictions for offences, including burglary and assault.

He was an associate of Eoin O’Connor (32) and Anthony Keegan (33), whose bodies were discovered on an island in Lough Sheelin, Co. Meath, last June, five weeks after they went missing. 

The two victims were low-level members of a Coolock-based gang who were involved in the drugs trade, but were not considered violent criminals.

It is believed they were murdered after gardai successfully seized a shipment of drugs which was being stored in a house on the northside of the city in 2013. 

Farrelly himself faced death threats following the murder of the two men. 

He also faced threats from Real IRA gang leader Alan Ryan before the terror thug’s death. The pair had words after Ryan beat up Farrelly’s triplet brother Paul, who was also arrested in Friday’s operation.  

Ryan told Farrelly he was a “dead man” following the argument. However, Ryan was subsequently shot dead on the orders of another northside criminal known as Mr Big.

Farrelly and two of his relatives were among seven men arrested in Artane in north Dublin on Friday

Farrelly was an associate of several well-known criminal figures, including Eamon Kelly, who was shot dead by the Real IRA in 2012. 

Farrelly’s son Glen was also arrested in Friday’s operation.

Another man arrested cannot be named as he is currently out on bail for extortion charges. 

The men arrested by gardai range in age from their 20s to their 50s and are from the northside of the city. 

The arrests were made as part of the first major operation of the newly-formed Organised Crime and Drugs Unit. The Emergency Response Unit were also involved in the arrests. 

Gardai had the gang under surveillance as part of a major intelligence-led operation. 

Sources say officers took the decision to move in before the gang attempted to carry out a robbery as they did not want the security workers to be placed in danger. 

“The safety of members of the public is a priority in cases like this,” said a source. 

In January, Judge Mary Ellen Ring directed the jury to find Farrelly and his associate Christopher Corcoran (67) not guilty of a tiger kidnapping. 

This followed a ruling by Judge Ring on a defence application challenging the admissibility of mobile phone records.

The records made up the bulk of the State’s case against the men.

The armed gang burst into the Richardson family home on the night of Sunday March 13, 2005 and took Marie Richardson and her two teenage sons, Ian (17) and Kevin (13), into the Dublin mountains.

They were held there overnight while Mr Richardson was held at gunpoint at his home and told to go to work as normal the next day and deliver the cash to a car park of a pub in the Strawberry Beds, Lucan, south Dublin.

Mr Richardson testified that he was crying so much out of concern for his family that he could hardly drive the van. After the ordeal came to an end he collapsed on the side of the motorway.

The stolen cash has never been retrieved and Judge Ring noted that the events continue to impinge on the family’s life 10 years on.

The seven men arrested on Friday are being questioned at four Garda stations across the north side of Dublin and can detained for a period of up to three days.