A “highly regarded” and “valuable” member of Eamon Dunne’s criminal gang has been sentenced to 14 years at the Circuit Criminal Court for conspiracy to steal from a cash-in-transit van at Tesco in Celbridge in 2007, and possession of ammunition.
Joseph Warren (30), a qualified brick layer and former solider, said he joined the gang because he missed the “camaraderie” of the army.
He claimed he was acting under duress from Dunne and told that he would be on “top of Marlo” or going to “God’s house” if he didn’t open the Nissan Patrol jeep with a consaw to allow his accomplice access to it.
Warren also claimed that he had been directed to wrap the 31 rounds of ammunition, that were found at the base of a tree in a public park, in a plastic wrap to stop them getting wet.
Warren had pleaded guilty to the ammunition charge on the morning of his trial after previously looking for phone records which he claimed showed communication between him and gardai leading up to his arrest in July 2009.
The gardai don’t accept that such communication existed and Warren told the court today,Wednesday, that he had been directed by someone else to cover the ammunition. He said he didn’t know what it was to be used for.
Judge Patrick McCartan commended members of the gardai in “the professional and effective way they pursued Mr Warren and associates”, a gang which he described as being involved in drug dealing, armed robbery and “contract killings as necessary”.
The garda investigation led by Detective Superintendent Dominic Hayes involved months of surveillance prior to the attempted heist and included members from the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Special Detective Unit and the Crime and Investigation Unit.
Warren of Belclare Crescent, Ballymun, had been convicted of conspiracy by a Dublin Circuit Criminal Court jury last week following a three week trial. A jury in March had failed to reach a verdict on the same charge.
Warren had pleaded not guilty to conspiring to steal cash from Chubb Ireland at Tesco supermarket on the Shackleton Road in Celbridge on Nov 2, 2007.
He pleaded guilty earlier this year to possession of the ammunition at Poppintree Park, Ballymun on July 19, 2009.
The attempted heist gang including Eamonn Dunne, Alan and Wayne Bradley, Jeffrey Morrow, Michael Ryan and Warren, had followed a Chubb Ireland Nissan Patrol jeep for a number of hours in the hope of stealing over €880,000 from the safe in it.
Detective Garda James McGovern told Ms Murphy that Warren was “a trusted associate of the group of individuals who carried out this crime” and was “a valuable member of the organisation”.
Warren was arrested in the Tesco carpark that morning after he was observed by gardai approaching the jeep with a running consaw. Ryan had just tried unsuccessfully to open both the passenger’s and driver’s door of the vehicle.
The other four men were arrested in the vicinity, as was Chubb worker Daryl Caffrey, who had been the passenger in the jeep that day. He was considered “the inside man” and had had provided information to the gang.
The court heard that there were 193 phone calls exchanged between all six men that day and Warren called all of the others, apart from Ryan whom he was travelling with and Wayne Bradley.
Judge McCartan said the evidence at the sentence hearing was that Warren was “an active and trusted member of the gang” and “highly regarded” which he said did not entitle him in law or otherwise to suggest that he was acting under duress.
“I have little or no doubt that the jury had the same jaundiced view of his testimony”, Judge McCartan said.
He said Warren’s association continued to minding this cache of ammunition, arriving at the scene of Dunne’s murder grieving for him and carrying the man’s coffin.
He said Warren had suggested that he was working in “cahoots” with members of gardai in relation to the ammunition charge but then later stated he was acting under duress from another person.
“This ammunition could have been used to dispatch someone else or to be used in another robbery,” Judge McCartan commented.
He sentenced Warren to eight years for the conspiracy and a consecutive term of six years for the ammunition charge before he suspended the final three years on strict conditions.
Judge McCartan said he was moved by a letter from Warren’s partner, Jennifer Hyland, and how he had cared for her and her two children.
He said he had also taken into account a letter from Warren’s mother and his brother Andre, about how they are ashamed and stunned by his behaviour.