Four years for jewellery robber — (New Ross Standard)

SSRI Ed note: Young man addicted to antidepressants collects arsenal, commits robbery, engages in stadoff with police, his psychiatrist brings him AD, he surrenders.

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New Ross Standard

Published Date: 12 November 2008

By by Mary Cody

A DISTURBED young man who robbed almost half a million euro worth of jewellery in Kilkenny city and then engaged in a siege with gardai for a number of hours was sentenced to four years in prison at Kilkenny Circuit Court yesterday (Tuesday).

Liam Foley, 22 Wood-lands Estate, Graignam-anagh, pleaded guilty to robbery at Murphy’s Jewellers, High Street, on March 7. He also pleaded guilty to possession of a nine-millimetre firearm and to possession of a semi-automatic pistol, a revolver, six deactivated pistols, a deactivated rifle and an assortment of firearm parts. He also pleaded guilty to possession of ammunition at his home.

Det Garda Pat Starr told the court that on the morning of the incident, Foley left his home at 7.45am and caught a bus to Kilkenny arriving before 9am while in possession of a semi-automatic pistol and seven rounds of ammunition.
He loaded the gun in the Castle Park, put on a different jacket and a balaclava and put loaded magazines in his pockets.
He walked to High Street and walked up and down outside Murphy’s Jewellers, and at 9.50am went in. One of two sales assistants in the shop saw him with the balaclava on him, screamed and ran upstairs. This alerted the other girl who was in shock.

Foley went in behind the display unit in the front window and fired into the unit to break the lock.
The second girl saw the gun and ran down to the basement. Foley started filling his rucksack with jewellery, and while he was doing so a second shot was fired. The second shot is believed to have been discharged accidentally and it travelled down through the floor into the basement and hit some cardboard. Frag-ments of the cardboard hit the second sales assistant.

The gardai were contacted and went to the shop and viewed CCTV footage and also spoke to a taxi driver who said he had dropped a young man to Graignam-anagh. Gardai obtained a search warrant and went to Foley’s house, where they met his father who told them that his son was in his bedroom. Gardai went upstairs and discovered Foley locked into his bedroom.

Siege situation
“The next three hours were like a siege situation. Foley said he was in possession of two firearms and that he was feeling suicidal and that he intended on using the guns on himself,” Det Starr told the court.

He asked to speak to his GP and a priest. Gardai assured him of his safety. Foley’s doctor, Dr Halley, arrived and gave him two anti-depressants. At 10pm Foley told gardai that he was disarming himself and came out of his room of his own accord and spoke to his parents and doctor before being brought to a psychiatric ward at St Luke’s hospital, Kilkenny by gardai.
He remained there until March 10 when he was arrested by gardai. He has remained in custody since his arrest.
Gardai carried out a search of Foley’s home and found an arsenal of guns, bullets and materials from the internet about shoot-outs, massacres and robberies.

There were two tapes showing him experimenting with explosives. Gardai seized nine handguns, in-cluding two working guns and seven deactivated guns.

They recovered 2,521 bullets and 1,381 discharged bullets. A large quantity of jewellery was found in his bedroom.
In the weeks leading up to the robbery, Foley had visited the jewellery shop.
In all, f468,060 worth of jewellery was stolen – f429,780 has since been recovered.
At around 3pm on the day of the robbery, Foley posted engagement rings worth f19,000 to a dealer in Northern Ireland who deals in decommissioned guns. The rings were intercepted by police. There are five rings still missing, totalling f19,095.
On the same day, Foley also attended his doctor and told him that he was in “good form” and thinking of going to Australia. Dr Halley told gardai that he had treated Foley for mild depression prior to the incident.

On the night of the siege, Dr Halley spent three hours talking to Foley surrounded by armed gardai on the stairs of the Foley family home. He told gardai that he did not think that Foley was insane at this time.
Foley asked to take the stand and apologised to the two sales assistants for the incident.

Mr Foley’s parents were also present in court for sentencing.
Defence barrister Mr John O’Kelly explained to the court that in the weeks leading up to the incident, Foley had lost his closest friend, James Holden, from a heroin overdose.
Foley told the gardai after his arrest that he had wanted to create a confrontational situation with gardai where he would end up dead.

Mr O’Kelly described his client as a disturbed young man who had suffered terrible disappointment regarding his education. He added that his client had no previous convictions.

“James was his friend and support. While Liam had an interest in guns, he wasn’t in any trouble up to this point. After James’ death he went inwards and downwards and told gardai openly that the purpose of this incident was to create a confrontational situation where he would end up dead and be with his friend. You are not dealing with a hardened criminal, but a young man who engaged in a totally irrational act. He seemed to be working on autopilot and was in a state of depression and grief and anger, and found himself in an extraordinary situation,” he added.

Judge Olive Buttimer sentenced the 24-year-old to four years in prison, backdating the sentence from March.

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  • Last Updated: 12 November 2008 12:33 PM
  • Source: n/a
  • Location: Kilkenny City