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Thursday 21 March 2019

Gangster Kelly may face life in jail for his tole in €90,000 tiger kidnap terror

Paschal Kelly
Paschal Kelly

One of Ireland's most notorious gangland criminals was yesterday convicted of a €90,000 tiger kidnapping four years ago in which a postmistress, her daughter and an Italian student were abducted from their home.

Paschal Kelly (53) could now spend the rest of his life behind bars but he will not learn his fate until a sentencing hearing next month.

Coolock mobster Kelly, of Cootehill, Co Cavan, had pleaded not guilty to trespass and to false imprisonment of postmistress Susan Lawlor, her daughter Emma Carter and Italian student Gabriella Saisa at Seabury Drive, Malahide, Dublin, on September 25, 2014.

Kelly had also pleaded not guilty to robbing Ms Lawlor of cash at Bayside Post Office, Sutton, Dublin, and threatening to kill her, Ms Carter and Ms Saisa at an unknown location in the State. He had also denied unlawful possession of a vehicle, all on the same date.

Mob

Shortly after midday yesterday the jury of seven men and five women returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all charges after one hour and 40 minutes deliberating.

Kelly was a key member of the gang that ordered the murder of Real IRA boss Alan Ryan in September 2012, but has since fallen out with many of his former associates in that mob, including the major north Dublin drugs trafficker nicknamed 'Mr Big'.

Kelly and Mr Big, who is currently out on bail over serious offences, had a bitter falling out when the younger gangster failed to pay Kelly back a five-figure cash sum.

In March 2015, Kelly was jailed for four-and-a-half years for tax evasion, threats to kill a CAB officer and serious driving offences.

A criminal with more than 50 previous convictions including a four-year sentence for robbery in 1989 and 10 years for a similar offence in 1997, Kelly had been a major target for specialist garda units for years.

In February 2014, in the High Court, Kelly had his Co Cavan home seized by CAB and was described by a judge as playing a "leading role in an organised criminal gang".

Kelly, who is involved in a number of brutal gangland and personal feuds in the capital, was described as having links to a tiger kidnapping gang.

The court ruled that apart from his home in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan, he must also forfeit a 4x4 vehicle, €11,000 from the sale of another car, and around €3,000 in cash seized from the house.

Since being locked up Kelly has been the victim of threats by many former associates, including when he had to be transferred off a wing in Mountjoy Prison in November 2015. The ageing gangster is considered a "hate figure" to many of the capital's younger criminals.

Kelly's lengthy trial heard Ms Lawlor, Ms Carter and Ms Saisa describe being abducted by two masked and armed intruders in the early hours and driven to various locations before the post office raid.

The two men broke into the home, tied the women's hands with cable ties and bundled them into Ms Lawlor's Nissan Qashqai. They were later joined by a third raider in a Volkswagen Golf at a field in an unknown location.

On the way to this field, Ms Lawlor told the jury, her phone rang in her handbag. She said the driver "freaked" and asked "Who the f**k is ringing you at this hour of the morning?"

She said this raider, who she called 'Number One', had initially come into her room after breaking in and had demanded to know if she'd made a call.

She denied doing so to the intruder, but told the jury she had managed to ring a special "tiger raid hotline number" issued by An Post.

After her phone rang in the car, her daughter tried to calm the situation by suggesting it was one of the neighbours.

Ms Saisa, who had been staying with Ms Lawlor while she learned English, said she had felt nauseous on the car journey to one destination and thought the men were going to kill her.

Ms Lawlor said raider 'Number One' beat and threatened her when she told them the post office safe was on a timer. She said they drove her alone to her workplace hours later and robbed the cash.

Prosecution counsel Kerida Naidoo SC said Ms Lawlor's description of 'Number One' matched Kelly.

Getaway

He said the getaway car driver was linked to a phone that had been tracked to different cell sites near the post office and had only communicated with a second phone.

Mr Naidoo said a hat and neck-warmer found in the gardens which this man ran past were later analysed and found to contain Kelly's DNA.

He said the phone which the State says had been used by the getaway driver was also found in the same garden.

He said Kelly's DNA was found on two water bottles recovered from the Golf, which he said had been stolen two weeks previously.

Mr Naidoo said there was also evidence from a taxi driver who later picked up a man from around the area where the items had been discarded and took him to the home of Mr Kelly's then partner. He reminded the jury of CCTV footage from a petrol station that captured that journey.

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