December 7, 2002
Three Dublin men were before Portlaoise Circuit Court last week facing charges in relation to an attempted bank raid on the Allied Irish Bank in Abbeyleix on December 7 of last year.
Kevin Lynch of Glenshane Crescent, Tallaght, Ian Quinn, St. Aongus Road, Tallaght and John Bishop, St. Ronan’s Drive, Clondalkin, were charged with conspiracy to rob cash from the staff of AIB, Abbeyleix; conspiracy to enter as a trespasser the AIB premises; possession of a sawn off shotgun with intent to commit an offence and possession of a stun gun.
They were also charged with using motor vehicls (a Porsche, a BMW and a Mercedes) without the consent of the owners.
The jury found the three men guilty on the charge of conspiracy to rob the bank and on the unauthorized use of the vehicles.
Judge Carroll Moran, summing up the evidence, said Detective Sgt. John Eiffe tragically lost his life in what was termed “friendly fire.” He said the shooting of Sgt. Eiffe was clearly a fiasco. The operation went wrong but that was not a matter for the jury.
The Judge adjourned sentencing. When the court resumed on December 2, the defendants were each sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment on the conspiracy to rob a bank charge. They were also sentenced to five years’ detention on a charge of stealing motor cars.
A jury of 11 men and one woman acquitted the accused of charges of possessing guns and conspiracy to enter AIB as trespassers.
Before passing sentence, Judge Moran said he could not take into account the unfortunate death of Detective Sgt Eiffe who had lost his life in a needless way.
He said the accused men could not be held responsible for the death and had at an early stage expressed their regret at the loss of life.
Unfortunately, stated the Judge there was very little which could be said in favour of the three accused men.
He added: “This is a bad case, carrying a maximum sentence of 14 year.” He gave as much leniency as possible, imposing 10-year jail terms. And he disqualified all three from driving for 20 years.