Sunday 20 October 2019

Gang member: I spent raid cash on beer, drugs, horses and prostitutes

Judge's gavel.
Judge's gavel.
Judge Barry Hickson.

A MEMBER of a criminal gang who stole €205,000 from an Enniscorthy ATM told the court spent his €41,000 share on beer, drugs, horses and prostitutes.

Bunclody man Des Kavanagh was giving evidence in the trial of Thomas Berry of 54 Castlerock, Bunclody, who pleaded not guilty to a number of charges before Judge Barry Hickson at Wexford Circuit Court.

Berry pleaded not guilty, before a jury, to stealing an ATM Machine and quantity of cash at Bellefield, Enniscorthy, on July 24, 2009. He also pleaded not guilty to intentionally damaging structural walls of the premises of Maxol/Mace or was wreckless as to whether the property would be damaged.

He also pleaded not guilty to stealing a mechanically propelled vehicle, and also not guilty to stealing an Ifor Williams trailer.

Prosecuting counsel Michael Delaney told the jury that the case centred on the 'smash and grab' theft of an ATM at the Maxol-Mace store in Bellefield, Enniscorthy.

It is the prosecution's case that Thomas Berry was one of five men involved in the ATM raid.

The gang set out from Carlow at about 3.30a.m. on the date in question, going through Tullow to Enniscorthy where they set about locating a jeep and trailer to enable them take away the ATM.

Mr Delaney told the jury they stole a Mitsubishi Pajero Jeep from Thomas Walsh at Nolan's Lawn before stealing an Ifor Williams trailer from John Walsh at Moran Park for use in the raid. The men then travelled to the filling station on the Bellefield Road in an Audi Quatro and the Mitsubishi Pajero, which was towing the trailer.

They used a Hymac digger, which was on site for repair works at the time, to remove the ATM from the wall of the building, causing structural damage to the tune of €47.500 to Kevin Frayne's premises.

Mr Delaney said Michael 'Soop' Berry got into the JCB and started it up by hot wiring it, then proceeded to drive the machine at the ATM a number of times. The gang then placed the ATM into the bucket of the JCB, bringing it to the trailer before they made their getaway.

he ATM was taken to a location in Carlow where con saws, a sledge hammer and hammer were used to open it and access the €205,000 inside. Later that morning in a field in Rathoe various vehicles were found burning, Mr Delaney added.

Mr Delaney said Des Kavanagh was one of this gang of five men. In November 2009, he made a statement to gardaí outlining his involvement in this with the other men. He identified the gang along with himself, as Thomas Berry, the accused; Michael 'Bee' Berry, Michael 'Soops' Berry and his brother Joe Berry, adding that they may all be related one way or another. He said that Kavanagh subsequently pleaded guilty to charges relating to this and served a term in prison.

Mr Delaney said he is an accomplice witness and the law asks they exercise particular care in how they should approach that evidence, which will be left to the trial judge when summing up the case.

Des Kavanagh in evidence told the court that following the ATM raid at Bellefield, they headed along back roads to Michael 'Soops' Berry's house outside Carlow, where it was eventually opened. They got €41,000 each.

When defence counsel Brendan Grehan put it to Kavanagh that there was no sign of Thomas Berry on the CCTV footage, the witness said he was there, he benefited and got the same as everyone else.

Mr Grehan said the crux for the jury is that there were four present and not five, but Kavanagh said there was five, he had never said there was four.

Mr Grehan also told the witness that in an interview with gardaí, he never mentioned Thomas Berry, the accused. 'You are able to lie when it suits and lie convincingly,' said Mr Gehan.

Kavanagh said after a few days he told gardaí because he was guaranteed his safety and his family's safety. 'I did not tell the full bit about Thomas [Berry] but did a few days later,' said Kavanagh.

Kavanagh also told Mr Grehan that of the €41,000, some €20,000 he never got as he gave the money to people to mind for him.

However, Mr Grehan stated that Kavanagh got the entire sum of money and that when gardaí caught up with him, he said he had spent the money on drink, drugs, gambling and prostitutes.

'That's about it,' was Kavanagh's reply.

The trial continues today (Tuesday).

Wexford People