Burglary suspects  | 

Dad and son among five men charged after stolen car crashed during high-speed Garda chase

Gardai said the arrests followed an investigation into nationwide burglaries by an organised crime group.

The crashed car was found overturned in Naas, Co Kildare

Andrew Phelan

FIVE burglary gang suspects were arrested after a stolen car they were in went "mid-air" and crashed during a high-speed garda chase through two counties, a court heard.

A father and son were among the men charged after the high-powered car allegedly left the scene of a break-in, rammed a garda vehicle and led officers on a lengthy pursuit.

Gardai said the arrests followed an investigation into nationwide burglaries by an organised crime group.

All five men were brought before Judge Paula Murphy at Dublin District Court this afternoon.

One was granted bail and all cases were adjourned for a week for the directions of the DPP.

William Connors (46), a father-of-four of Acorn Downs, Newbridge, Co Kildare is charged with seven offences - three counts of dangerous driving, as well as burglary, criminal damage to a garda car, possession of housebreaking implements and handling a stolen Audi, on April 26.

His son Larry Connors (19) of the same address, and the other three accused; James Connors (23) of Drumcairn Park; Michael Connors (23) of Kiltalown Hill; and Larry O’Reilly (21) of Ardmore Walk, in Tallaght are all charged with burglary, handling the stolen car and possession of the implements found in it.

William Connors was refused bail following garda objections, while his son Larry was granted conditional bail. None of the other three accused applied for bail.

Gardai said the accused made no reply to the charges after caution.

Detective Garda Gary Farrell objected to bail in William and Larry Connor’s cases. He said an operation by the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau and officers from the north and eastern regions targeted a group of “organised males” involved in criminal activities including burglary and handling stolen property nationwide.

He said a stolen Audi SQ5 entered the Republic from Northern Ireland with cloned plates.

The vehicle was allegedly used in burglaries of residential and commercial premises in counties including Tipperary, Carlow, Meath and Kildare.

It was alleged that as the car came from the scene of a house burglary at Rathmoylon, Co Meath on Tuesday, it rammed an official garda vehicle and was pursued through counties Meath and Kildare where it drove at high speed in an effort to evade capture.

National and local gardai units were involved, as well as the garda air support unit, before the car crashed at a roundabout outside Naas, Co Kildare at around 8pm. It went into mid-air and landed in a parking spot in the Lidl car park, Det Gda Farrell said. When the five occupants were arrested, they were wearing gloves which gardai believed showed awareness of forensic techniques.

Inside the car, gardai found various implements including bleach, a screwdriver, torch and burner phone.

It was alleged there was “planning involved” and the offences were not “opportunistic crime.”

A comprehensive investigation file was being prepared and further serious charges were envisaged, Det Gda Farrell said.

He believed William and Larry Connors were “vital cogs” in an organised group. He said they were caught red-handed in a high-powered stolen car with cloned plates which contained housebreaking implements and was involved in a lengthy pursuit.

He believed they were flight risks if granted bail.

In bail applications, a defence barrister said William and Larry Connors were not charged with being members of any criminal organisation and there was no evidence of this or that they had any involvement in any of the other alleged offences referred to.

Det Gda Farrell said investigations were ongoing in relation to alleged burglaries nationwide.

William Connors was a “family man” on social welfare who had no trappings of enormous wealth, the barrister said. There was no reality to him being a flight risk, he said.

Larry Connors was also on social welfare and living at home with his parents.

Judge Murphy said the charges were serious but the accused were presumed innocent. She refused bail in William Connors’ case but granted bail to his son.

Bail was set in Larry Connors’ own bond of €3,000, of which €1,000 cash is to be lodged, and an independent surety of €2,000. Under conditions, he must live at his home address, sign on daily at a garda station, observe a curfew and stay out of Co Meath.

He was remanded in custody with consent to bail.

James Connors was not working, his solicitor Michael O’Connor said.

Solicitor Conor Ruane said Larry O’Reilly, a father-of-one, and Michael Connors were also unemployed. All accused were granted free legal aid.

The cases were adjourned to Cloverhill District Court on May 6.

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