Gran (73) who acted as a getaway driver for robbery gang in Westmeath avoids jail

Therese King talks to Sunday World reporter Patrick O'Connell

Therese King

Jessica ThompsonSunday World

A man and a woman involved in the assault and robbery of an 80-year-old man who was assaulted and tied to a chair while the culprits made off with his shotgun and his jeep, have been sentenced in Mullingar Circuit Court this morning.

Therese King, of Seffin, Birr, Co Offaly, was handed a three year prison sentence, which was suspended in its entirety, while Edward Morrissey, of Old Shop Building, Emmett Street, Birr, Co Offaly, received a six year and six month sentence with the final three years suspended for five years.

In 2020, well-known former B&B owner Therese King had denied any guilt in regard to the allegations made against her.

She told the Sunday World, following her arrest last year: "I'm not guilty of anything."

And she added that in her long life this had been the first time for her to have come to the attention of the gardaí.

"Not even a parking ticket," she said.

The court heard that on September 19, 2020, at 2.06pm, Gardaí were notified that a male had been tied up and robbed in his home and that his jeep had been taken.

The victim was 80-year-old Martin Dibbs, who had arrived back at his farmyard at around 12pm, where he was confronted by three masked males who shouted and demanded money off him.

One of the men had a black stick covered in black tape and all three forced their way into the house, where they proceeded to tape his arms to the chair and put a cloth in his mouth.

They proceeded to demand money from him, taking €45 from his pocket before looking around the house.

Mr Dibbs told Gardaí that when the men came back downstairs, they had his shotgun.

One of them got cartridges for the gun, closed it and pointed it at him, demanding to know where his money was.

One of the men also threatened to "split him open" with an axe.

Mr Morrissey, the court heard, proceeded to go out to the yard and start up Mr Dibbs' jeep, beckoning to the other men to leave with him.

One of the raiders clipped Mr Dibbs' legs on the way out, causing him to fall backwards and the chair to break.

When the injured party finally freed himself, he called 999 and told Gardaí he had been robbed and badly abused.

Ms King's role in the offence, the court heard, was to drive the three men to the house and to remain in a nearby carpark and wait for them to return.

The following day, she drove the men to Limerick where they exchanged the shotgun for drugs.

Therese King

"The evidence discloses that Edward Morrissey was involved in tying the victim to the chair and he was also the driver of the jeep," said Judge Keenan Johnson.

"It is clear that he had a very active role in the perpetration of the robbery. The involvement of Therese King was somewhat more peripheral."

Judge Johnson noted that Mr Morrissey and Ms King were the only two culprits to be prosecuted due to a lack of evidence against the other two.

"It would seem to me that if the two parties before the court are willing to testify then that decision not to prosecute the other two culprits should be revisited with a view to instigating proceedings against both of them," he said.

"After today's sentencing, the two accused will have been dealt with by the courts and will be free to testify against the other two culprits who are not currently before the courts.

"I sincerely hope that the sincerity of their remorse for the index offence is evidenced by them taking such a course of action."

Taking all of the aggravating and mitigating factors into account, Judge Johnson proceeded to sentence Mr Morrissey to six years and six months in prison with the final three years suspended for a period of five years post release.

Ms King was handed a sentence of three years, which has been suspended in its entirety, with a condition that she pay a sum of €10,000 in compensation to the accused.

She has also been disqualified from driving for four years after Judge Johnson deemed her "not suitable to hold a driver's licence".

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