herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Carjacker jailed for Taser threat to mum and her two children

AIB in Rathgar, Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron
AIB in Rathgar, Dublin. Picture:Arthur Carron

a man who threatened to Taser a mother and her young children during a terrifying car-jacking in Rathgar has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Francis Gavigan (41) from Cahir, Co Tipperary pleaded guilty to the robbery and false imprisonment of Eleanor McCarthy on May 16, 2014 in the Dublin 6 area.

During the 30-minute ordeal, he threatened Ms McCarthy with what looked like a Taser gun and warned her to stop beeping the horn or he'd take her children from her.

Mr Gavigan previously hit the headlines when forensic psychologist Donna Duffield opened up about a romantic relationship she developed while he was in prison in the UK.

At the time the English woman vowed to stand by him and insisted that he was reformed and that they were looking forward to building a life after his release.

Last night Miss Duffield told the Herald she wasn't aware of his latest conviction. She declined to comment on their relationship status as she was unhappy with the attention it drew in the past.

In court yesterday, Garda Patrick Farrell told Garrett McCormack BL, prosecuting, that Ms McCarthy had been at the junction of Zion Road and Orwell Road when Gavigan jumped into the passenger side.

He threatened her with something black and rectangular and told her to stop beeping the horn or he would Taser her.

Gavigan made Ms McCarthy drive to her home and got one of the children to fetch her wallet from the house. She then drove to the nearest ATM and withdrew €600 from AIB for Gavigan.

When Ms McCarthy got back into the car she did a U-turn to try and make her position known by this driving manoeuvre. She dropped Gavigan near the canal and contacted her husband and gardai.

Throughout the ordeal, Gavigan sought to reassure the two children in the car and showed them a memorial card of his late mother.

He said he was a "bad apple" and hated doing this but he was desperate and couldn't rob banks any more.

Gavigan told the two boys they were lucky they had nice parents and said he had grown up in an "awful place surrounded by bad people".

Memorial

Gardai later used the memorial card to help identify Gavigan, with an address at Cahir Park Cottages, Ardfinnan Road, Cahir, Tipperary.

Passing sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal court, Judge Martin Nolan said the three victims had felt under severe threat and feared the worst.

"It is hard to know what would go through a person's mind when a stranger jumps into your car and takes control of your life, with the added worry of what this man might do to the two children," he said.

However Judge Nolan said he was satisfied that Gavigan at no time intended to harm Ms McCarthy or the children.

Gavigan was arrested the following day in Tipperary and confessed to the car-jacking, saying he owed money to a dealer and had to feed his €600-a-week heroin habit.

Gavigan has 34 previous convictions, including 10 unauthorised taking of vehicles and theft using violence.

Remy Farrell SC, defending, said Gavigan's crime had been one of "utter desperation" rooted in his drug addiction.

The court heard Gavigan was doing well in Limerick Prison and engaging with the chaplain there. The sentence was backdated to May 17, 2014.

hnews@herald.ie

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