Six cars, eight hours, two assaults - armed man's terrifying rampage
This is the man who was arrested following an armed, eight-hour crime rampage across Dublin, during which six cars were hijacked and two people assaulted.
Joseph Rafferty (37) was last night being quizzed by detectives after he led gardai on a pursuit that began after a domestic dispute.
Members of the elite Emergency Response Unit (ERU) were drafted in yesterday to help apprehend the suspect, who assaulted at least two people during the violent rampage.
Bizarrely, in the middle of his crime spree, he paid for fizzy drinks and sweets at a service station before continuing his rampage.
Detectives are investigating reports that a shot was fired, but preliminary examinations of the firearm indicate that no shots were discharged. The weapon - a 9mm eight-gauge machine gun - was recovered close to where Rafferty was arrested.
It has also emerged that Rafferty is currently serving a driving ban and was previously sentenced in the UK for his role in a car-jacking.
The incident began when the suspect took an Audi car from his partner's house at Brookview Lawns in Tallaght at around 6.20am.
He then drove around Jobstown and crashed the car in the Russell Square area a short time later.
He then stole or hijacked a Citroen Berlingo van, which he abandoned in Whitestown Way.
Rafferty then went to a house in the Watergate area of Tallaght, not far from The Square shopping centre, where at 6.50am he rang the doorbell.
The owner answered the front door and was shocked when he saw Rafferty standing at the porch door with what looked like a machine gun in his hands.
"He smashed the front door with the butt of the gun, and then hit me on the head with it," the owner told the Herald.
"He demanded the keys to the car. He was very determined and then he just drove away in it," he added, a large dressing covering the wound on his forehead.
Ten minutes later, Rafferty drove into the forecourt of the Topaz filling station at Ninth Lock near Clondalkin in the Renault Kadjar.
"He came in and was very agitated and aggressive. He bought Club Orange, biscuits and Lucozade, as well as pastries and sweets, and paid for them and then left," said a filling station employee.
"He then drove away in the direction where he came from."
The search continued during the morning, with gardai attempting to determine his whereabouts.
Rafferty abandoned the Renault in a car park on the Naas Road and then stole a silver Volvo car with an 06 MO registration.
At this stage, the massive number of gardai in pursuit descended on the area determined to close the net.
Within minutes, there were reports that he had ditched the Volvo and stolen a blue Subaru car at a dealership.
Marked and unmarked garda cars, as well as members of the ERU and Armed Support Unit (ASU) poured into the area around Tallaght and CityWest as the garda helicopter hovered overhead.
Then Rafferty hijacked a black Mercedes car and gardai chased it in the direction of CityWest Shopping Centre.
The pursuit came to an end at the centre when Rafferty was arrested following a scuffle with detectives shortly after 2pm.
In 2010, Rafferty received an eight-year sentence for a botched supermarket raid in which his accomplice was stabbed to death.
Rafferty, of Russell Place, Russell Square, Tallaght, pleaded guilty on his trial date at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to a €2,862 cash robbery at SuperValu in Killester in 2008.
He has more than 20 previous convictions here and in the UK, including an eight-year sentence from Oxford Crown Court for robbery and car-jacking, three years for criminal damage with a petrol bomb and seven years for four robberies, both from Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in 2000 and 1999.
Last year, Rafferty was also handed a lengthy road ban and is disqualified from driving.
Local Fianna Fail Cllr Charlie O'Connor said the dangerous situation had caused fear and upset in Tallaght and the wider community, but added that gardai had handled it well.
"I had calls from schools who were aware of the situation and were concerned about letting children out. The massive presence of the gardai was a big reassurance and they did very well in the end to capture this man without any major injuries or disaster," he said.