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Thursday 20 September 2018

Man who arranged vehicles for tiger kidnapping gets 10 years

Jeffrey Melvin pleaded guilty
Jeffrey Melvin pleaded guilty

A man who organised vehicles used in a 2010 tiger kidnapping has been jailed for 10 years after being extradited from Spain.

Jeffrey Melvin (36) failed to show up for his trial in June 2012 and was eventually extradited to Ireland in September 2016 on foot of a European Arrest Warrant.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard cash-in-transit employee Reginald Shannon was forced to hand over €134,000 to gunmen in January 2010 after his mother and young niece had been kidnapped.

Detective Inspector Barry Walsh said there was no evidence Melvin had been present during the robbery, but the investigation had linked him to the vehicles used in the raid.

The lengthy sentence handed down to Melvin was welcomed by organised crime units, who have been targeting the criminal for over a decade.

He was a key member of a gang involved in more than a dozen well-planned cash-in-transit robberies and tiger kidnappings - which involve two separate crimes, the first of which usually is an abduction - before he went on the run.

The court heard gardai uncovered a notebook with numerical details that mirrored movements of cash-in-transit vans used by AIB as part of their investigation into the 2010 tiger kidnapping.

Forced

Melvin, a mechanic, of Somerville, Ratoath, Co Meath, admitted conspiring to commit a robbery between October 13, 2009, and January 4, 2010.

Det Insp Walsh told Tara Burns, prosecuting, that Brinks Allied staff member Mr Shannon was met by two armed men as he was walking his dogs at about 5.30am on the January date. These men accompanied him back to his home, where his mother and nine-year-old niece were still asleep in bed.

The raiders bound the females' hands with cable ties, brought them outside and laid them under a duvet in the back of a Toyota Verso people carrier.

Mr Shannon was secured into a Renault Kangoo van with a ratchet and strap, and forced to drive around Dublin until the raiders in the vehicle directed him to the back of a Bank of Ireland branch.

The court heard there was a Brinks Allied van there to make a delivery.

Mr Shannon approached his colleagues and explained it was a tiger kidnapping and his colleagues handed over two money bags of cash.

Det Insp Walsh told the court that Melvin's phone number was tracked back to the Toyota Verso, the Renault Kangoo and a third van used in the tiger kidnapping.

Melvin was arrested and made admissions about purchasing the various vehicles before he failed to show up for his trial. The court heard that two men were previously acquitted of the tiger kidnapping due to legal issues that arose in their trials.

Another individual pleaded guilty to providing gardai with false information and received an 18-month prison sentence.

In a victim impact statement read out in court, Mr Shannon revealed that though the event did not have a profound psychological affect on him, it did impact his sense of security.

He said he did not return to work because his mother and niece had suffered greatly.

His mother, Angela Shannon, described in her victim impact statement how she suffered from anxiety and depression, could not leave the house on her own and had lost out on socialising because she was always on edge.

The now-teenage niece said she had been hospitalised because of the psychological trauma and that she used to relive the kidnapping daily in her mind. She said the crime had destroyed her life.

Melvin is currently serving a four-year sentence for possessing firearms.

Firearm

In that case, gardai placed him under surveillance in August 2011 and initially spotted him driving a BMW car near Ballymore Eustace, Co Kildare.

He drove toward Naas, where he met with a man in a Toyota Avensis and they both travelled to a wooded area.

Gardai later swooped on both vehicles and the driver of the Avensis was seen throwing a firearm - placed in a sock - out his window. DNA evidence later linked Melvin to the firearm.

The 10-year sentence will run concurrently to the four years he is already serving.

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