Brave warden tried to foil post office raiders

THE trial of two men charged in connection with a violent post office robbery in the city concluded dramatically at Kilkenny Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon when both pleaded guilty to robbery.

THE trial of two men charged in connection with a violent post office robbery in the city concluded dramatically at Kilkenny Circuit Court on Thursday afternoon when both pleaded guilty to robbery.

Philip Kerfoot, 172 Captain’s Road and David Atkinson, 169 Windmill Park, Crumlin initially denied robbery and having a fire arm in their possession with intent at High Street on Friday, January 23, 2009 but two weeks into the trial which was expected to run into a third week the defendants entered guilty pleas to robbery. And following consultation with the DPP the fire arms charges weren’t proceeded with.

Post office staff recalled their terror. One witness outlined how a traffic warden tried to intercept the raiders and another noticed a car registered to Mr Kerfoot acting suspiciously in the area two days beforehand.

Judge Jerry Griffin remanded Kerfoot and Atkinson in custody to Kilkenny Circuit Court on Tuesday, April 9 for sentencing.

Prosecuting barrister Brian O’Shea said that €16,040 had been recovered by Gardaí and he asked Judge Griffin to make an order for the return of the money to An Post.

Lorry driver Philip Delaney said he was parked across the road from the post office on the morning of the raid. He noticed a dark coloured range rover jeep pull up and saw three men wearing balaclavas run in, while the driver was wearing a black wig. He spotted Traffic Warden John Dunphy, who was known to him, trying to move on the driver oblivious to the fact the three others had entered the post office.

“The driver of the jeep was revving and beeping and moved up closer to the post office and the three came out. The warden went to grab one of them and he was hit on the hand with the butt of a hand gun. The warden grabbed another man and I heard one of the men shout at him, ‘I’ll shoot you. Let him go.’ The Gardaí arrived quickly, within two to three minutes, and pursued the jeep,” outlined Mr Delaney.

David Sutton SC put it to Mr Delaney he was mistaken as another witness suggested the driver had sandy coloured hair and wasn’t wearing a wig. Mr Delaney insisted he saw a ‘black wig’.

The grey Land Rover Discovery jeep used by the raiders was found by Gardaí abandoned at Nunico Road and it was recovered and towed to Kilkenny Garda Station by Gerard Mulhall. He revealed, “The jeep was parked at an angle towards the middle of the road and it had some conditional damage to the front. It was a UK registered vehicle and I unloaded it in the lock-up area supervised by Gardaí.”

Two days before the raid, on Wednesday, January 21, Mary Massey who works at Goode’s shop saw a black Ford Mondeo car reverse up and down a nearby lane twice or three times. It was between 4 and 4.30pm, the car looked suspicious and she noted the registration. She mislaid the piece of paper on which she wrote down the number plate but memorised it as 01-D-58672. She subsequently found the piece of paper in an old diary and contacted Garda John Donoghue. She went to Kilkenny Garda Station to see a car and it was the same as the one she saw on the day, but the registration plate was one digit out. She had, however, managed to write down the correct registration.

Mr Sutton SC questioned Ms Massey suggesting she didn’t make a statement to Gardaí but had provided her information on foot of a questionnaire. She rejected this. “I’ve a great a memory for registration numbers.”

Garda Paul Cotter, attached to Sundrive Road, provided evidence that at 12.53 am on February 21 he stopped a vehicle registered 01-D-56872 and it was registered to Philip Kerfoot, 172’s Captain’s Road. On foot of information received, Garda John Donoghue said that on February 5 of this year at he checked out registration number 01-D-56872 and it’s owner since October 29, 2007 was Philip Kerfoot.

Detective Garda Denis Nagle (now retired), attached to Crumlin, said he became aware from the computer system that David Atkinson had been involved in an armed robbery in Kilkenny. He arrested him under Section 30 with possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

Raymond Comyn SC didn’t question Det Nagle but he suggested to Judge Griffin that earlier during ‘a trial within the trial’ he made no reference to the computer system saying he couldn’t remember how he was made aware. He argued both pieces of evidence given under oath couldn’t be reconciled, however, prosecuting barrister Brian O’Shea refuted this. “I don’t accept the evidence given was irreconcilible. The defence even chose not to probe it.”

When the hearing resumed after lunch on Thursday, the defendants changed their plea to guilty and were remanded in custody for sentencing until Tuesday, April 9.