€25k supermarket raiders left customers terrified
Two men involved in armed raid of a Dublin supermarket while 30 customers were present have been jailed for five years.
Michael Coleman (34) and Michael Sweeney (32) were armed with an axe, a large knife and a gun and wearing balaclavas when they raided Lidl on the Grange Road in Rathfarnham near closing time.
They threatened a member of staff with a gun and the manager of the store with an axe before robbing almost €25,000.
Coleman of Captain's Road, Crumlin and Michael Sweeney of Neagh Road, Terenure each pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to robbery on May 16, 2013.
A third accused, Waymon Sweeney (33) of Glenview Park, Tallaght, who had been in court earlier in the day, didn't return after lunch and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Michael Sweeney has 29 previous convictions for road traffic offences and trespass, while Coleman has 23 for road traffic, public order and firearm offences.
Sergeant Padraig Mullarkey told Martina Baxter BL, prosecuting, that customers were forced to lie on the floor and staff members were instructed to kneel against the wall while the men demanded cash.
One cashier had a pistol held at the back of his neck while he was instructed to open the safe. The manager then appeared from the warehouse and was threatened with an axe until he loaded the robber's bag with all the notes from the safe.
The raiders ultimately made off with €24,556. They were chased down by gardai who arrived on the scene before they had left the carpark after the security guard dialled 999.
The robbers drove their getaway car directly at a garda who was attempting to block them and gestured at him with a gun.
The men drove into a nearby housing estate where they burnt out the original car. They hopped a wall and escaped again in a waiting vehicle.
This second car was pursued by gardai and was ultimately crashed. A number of items, including the takings from the robbery, were still in the vehicle.
Coleman was arrested at the scene while Michael Sweeney walked into a nearby McDonald's Restaurant. He claimed he had been involved in a car accident and got a customer there to call his family to pick him up.
He was later arrested after his DNA was found in items left behind in the second car.
Judge Martin Nolan described it as "a well planned, ambitious robbery", noting the gang had a getaway car but said fortunately the gardai arrived in "the nick of time".