Kidnapper gets 18 years over violent 'tiger' raid

Gangland criminal Paschal Kelly has been jailed for 18 years for a €92,000 post office robbery and ‘tiger’ kidnapping during which three women were tied up and abducted.

Kelly (53) was one of a gang of three men who burst into the home of postmistress Susan Lawlor, at Seabury Drive, Malahide, Co Dublin, on September 25, 2014.

The gang used cable ties to bind Ms Lawlor, her daughter and an Italian student who was staying at the home. The women were brought to a field where they were held overnight before the gang drove them to the Bayside Post Office in Sutton, Dublin.

At one stage, Kelly threatened to burn them alive in a car by pouring petrol over it. The raiders eventually left with the cash.

Last month, Kelly, with an address in Cootehill, Co Cavan, was convicted of trespass and the false imprisonment of Ms Lawlor, her daughter Emma Carter and student Gabriella Saisa.

He was also convicted of robbery at Bayside Post Office and of threatening to kill the three women. He was found guilty of possession of a stolen vehicle, all on the same date.

The father of two had denied all charges. His trial last year extended into a ninth week at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Yesterday, Judge Karen O’Connor paid “a very special tribute to the three remarkable women” who, she said, showed courage that not only got them through their ordeal but led to the capture of one suspect.

She said it was clear Ms Lawlor was using her mind right to the end of the incident when she suggested the raiders put money into post office bags so it could be traced.

She noted too how Ms Carter had tried to delay leaving the house because she thought her screaming might have alerted gardaí.

“These women have demonstrated extraordinary dignity throughout this case and for that I am very grateful to them,” Judge O’Connor said.

She said during the sentence hearing last week, Kelly’s defence team had suggested this case did not meet the criteria for a ‘tiger’ kidnapping.

Judge O’Connor disagreed and described how Ms Lawlor’s home was violated and targeted and that she was “clearly the subject of surveillance”.

She said Ms Lawlor was separated, punched and threatened before being brought to the post office, and the money was only recovered because her “fast-thinking actions” had alerted the authorities.

Judge O’Connor said the CCTV footage of the three women being brought into the post office in their night-wear made for “disturbing viewing”. She said the threats to kill instilled terror.

Judge O’Connor imposed an 18-year sentence with credit to be given for time Kelly had already spent in custody on the matter.

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