Dumbest Crimes

The Dumbest Crimes

5 of Ireland’s Dumbest Crimes

1. When you hate work so much you have a mate pretend to be Islamic State

We’ve all been there. It’s Monday, it’s raining sideways and grimmer than a Scandi-drama outside. You want to put the duvet back in its rightful position over your head. So you pick up the phone, punch in the number for work and call in an unscheduled trip to the dentist. Or a sudden fever. Or get a mate to phone in a  bomb warning on behalf of Islamic State. Standard stuff, really.

Aaron ONeill

Aaron O’Neill

 

Aaron O’Neill had been up all night drinking and taking tablets with his friend and accomplice, Colin Hammond, when he decided that he didn’t want to go to work.

“He hates work”, Hammond later helpfully explained to gardai.

O’Neill then hit upon a plan. He would pay Hammond the princely sum of €30 to call the emergency services at six o’clock in the morning, claiming bombs located at the gigantic Intel plant in Leixlip would go off in 12 hours time.

Hammond, in rather cavalier fashion, made the call from a payphone outside his own home.

“You will not find them (the bombs),” Hammond told emergency services from the payphone, located just 50 yards from his home. “This is a warning, we’re everywhere now.”

When asked who was making the call, he said: “Islamic State.”

The hoax bomb call shut down the M4 motorway, caused severe delays to commuters, disrupted air traffic control and prevented around 4,000 Intel staff from going to work.

It cost the US computer chip maker about 6,000 hours of production.

The story of the men’s capture, resulting from some rather nifty on-the-hoof detective work from a garda, also strikes a suitably outrageous tone.

A month after the incident, a taxi man arrived at Balbriggan Garda Station with a passenger who wouldn’t pay his fare. When a garda in the station encountered the passenger, he recognised his voice as that of the hoax caller.

Hammond said he did it on his friend’s behalf because “he hates work and I made a phone call so he wouldn’t have to go to work.”

The 21-year-old, from Bath Road, Balbriggan was ordered to complete 200 hours of community service in lieu of two years in jail.

In court, his barrister asked for leniency because he was not the brains of the operation and was “gullible and open to suggestion”.

Judge Martin Nolan said Hammond had demonstrated that he was “profoundly stupid with this behaviour. That’s the only thing he’s done.”

“Every day presents a new surprise in this court. I thought I’ve heard very asinine tales but this (case) surprises even this court.”

Judge Nolan said that, “to put it politely”, it had been a misconceived plan but accepted that the men hadn’t envisaged the calls to have the effect they did.

Aaron O’Neill (20), of Chieftans Drive, Balbriggan, explained that there had been no set plan but it was decided that 6am was a good time to make the call and that it should be made from the phone-box on Hammond’s road.

O’Neill, who was getting a lift to work at Intel as a subcontractor with his father that Tuesday, told gardaí he was sorry but said he didn’t think it was going to be a big deal.

Judge Nolan remarked that it was a “very, very strange way to avoid going to work”.

O’Neill was later ordered to also carry out 200 hours community service in lieu of a two year prison sentence.

The pair had both pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to making a false report giving rise to apprehension for the safety of persons or property at Bath Road on January 13, 2015. Neither had any previous convictions.

2. The Facebook Friends

If you’re going to claim to your insurance company that a stranger rear-ended your car, your first move should to be make sure you don’t appear in the Facebook profile picture of said “stranger”….

David Ward

David Ward

 

Two “strangers” who staged a car crash in an attempt to pocket money from their insurance were caught out when investigators noticed them hugging each other on Facebook.

David Ward claimed the Opel Corsa he was a passenger in came speeding around a bend and hadn’t noticed the Volkswagen Passat driven by Lynsey Ivory until it was too late.

Both claimed to be suffering from neck and back pain when a garda arrived at the scene. Ward was even removed from the Corsa on a spinal board.

But the damage caused to either car was inconsistent with the account given and neither air bag had been deployed as would be expected.

While the couple were being taken to hospital in the same ambulance they continued pretending to be strangers.

Having made voluntary statements to gardaí they later submitted personal injury claims to FBD Insurance denying both times that they knew one another.

However, when a claims handler with the company examined both Ward’s and Ivory’s Facebook accounts, they discovered that the pair appeared in each other’s profile pictures.

The final blow to this not-quite-Machiavellian ruse came when gardaí, contacted by the insurance company, arrived at Ivory’s home to arrest her for questioning only for Ward to answer the door.

Ward and Ivory had married since the incident.

Ward (30) and Ivory (27) of The Beeches, Clonshaugh, Priorswood, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to attempting to dishonestly by deception cause a loss to FBD Insurance on dates between July 22, 2013 and January 1, 2014.

Ivory accepted that she had lied in her garda statement but claimed she didn’t think she needed to tell FBD that she knew the occupants in the other vehicle.

She admitted that it had been a staged accident but denied organising it, stating that she had just gone along with it. She said she was sorry.

Ward also accepted that he had lied in order to make a personal injury claim. He said he was offered the opportunity, he needed the money and he didn’t think it “was the worst thing in the world to do”.

He told gardaí he was sorry and said it had been his intention to spend his money on his children, mounting bills and to help pay for his upcoming wedding to Ivory.

Judge Martin Nolan sent Ward to prison for a year noting his previous conviction but spared Ivory from jail, pragmatically noting that “somebody has to mind the children”.

The judge said there must be some deterrence for this type of crime.

If the couple’s claim had been successful they could have been awarded up to €15,000 each.

3. The raider who trapped his own gang

Before embarking on a criminal enterprise, a person may have a myriad of fears. The fear of getting caught. The fear of getting injured. Perhaps even the fear of getting killed.

It is probably fair to say the fear of having the fire brigade rescue your accomplices isn’t really up there.

Gary Byrne

Gary Byrne

 

Perhaps the award for Ireland’s Dumbest Crime should go to Gary Byrne, who a sentencing judge remarked “ranks amongst the all-time stupidest criminals to come before the courts”.

Byrne’s attempted raid on a gold bullion store was scuppered in bizarre circumstances when he locked his accomplices inside the premises, alongside the staff they had just bound and gagged, and walked off with the keys to the safe.

Byrne and his fellow raiders Ian Jordan and Aidan Murphy had targeted a gold storage business on Bolton Street in the heart of Dublin on August 10, 2010.

Dressed as builders, replete with high-visibility vests and hard hats (whether they were carrying breakfast rolls is, sadly, unknown) the men forced staff inside at imitation-gun-point when the workers began opening the store shutters. Once inside the men then demanded keys and tied up the staff.

However, when Jordan and Murphy went to put duct tape over the mouths of staff, they realised Byrne had vanished. He had walked off with keys to the safe, locking the shutters behind him.

Dublin Fire Brigade attended the scene and cut a hole in the shutters in order to free those inside.

Jordan and Murphy emerged with their hands up and were immediately arrested.

Judge Donagh McDonagh described it as “one of the most farcical cases in recent criminal history in Dublin” and said Byrne “ranks amongst the all-time stupidest criminals to come before the courts”.

The judge gave Byrne the “benefit of his stupidity” when he suspended the final two years of a seven year sentence.

For “some unknown reason”, the judge said, Byrne left the premises and locked the shutters behind him.

He was to be the getaway driver, according to gardaí. Byrne left Bolton Street in the van the gang had arrived in earlier. He abandoned the van, his hard-hat, high visibility jacket and purple gloves in a bush.

Byrne’s fingerprints were later found on the hat, which he was recorded buying by CCTV footage on the morning of the robbery.

 

4. Copper-faced

There are few things in this life worth risking your neck for. Perhaps you would lay it on the line to protect your family or other half. Maybe you would be willing to sacrifice yourself for the love and security of your homeland.

Or, if you are this Sligo-born man, you’d be willing to gamble it all for a bit of lead and some copper wiring.

Lightning_hits_tree

Jamie Gordon (26) suffered severe burns to his hands and feet while trying to steal copper wiring and lead flashing from an ESB sub station, leaving four thousand houses in Dublin without power in the process.

Gordon, who was a drug addict , also suffered severe internal injuries during the attempted theft and, in his own words, his left foot “blew up”.

He caused just over €10,000 worth of damage to the power station in Inchicore and left thousands of houses reaching for the circuit breakers.

Gordon had gone to the sub-station with a hacksaw and pliers and planned to steal the wiring and flashing so he could sell it on.

During his exertions, he touched off a live part of the system and was electrocuted. He suffered entry wounds to the palms of his hands and more severe exit wounds to his feet.

One foot was left with 70 per cent third degree burns and Gordon said that his left foot “blew up”. He still suffers problems with his feet.

When Garda Niall Kenny arrived at the scene he found Gordon lying unconscious alongside a black rucksack with the pliers and hammer.

Gda Kenny told prosecuting counsel that on the night ESB staff were very fearful that Gordon’s condition would deteriorate because of the internal injuries caused by the surge of electricity going through his body.

Gordon thanked the garda personally for his help on the night and apologised to the ESB for the trouble he caused.

Gordon has 21 previous convictions. He received a suspended three year jail sentence at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court in 2010 for attempted burglary. He also has convictions for driving offences from Sligo district court.

Counsel for Gordon said he had a deep-rooted drug addiction problem and his crimes are motivated by his need to fund this problem. He said his addiction caused him to carry out what was a life threatening and stupid act.

Gordon, of Haven House Hostel, Dublin pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to trespassing with intent to commit an offence in the vicinity of a building at ESB substation on the Ninth Lock Road, Clondalkin on November 3, 2013.

Sentencing judge Mary Ellen Ring told Gordon he should consider the fact that he could have died for what would have been an insignificant amount of copper and leading.

She suspended a three-year jail sentence on condition that Gordon keep the peace for five years.

Judge Ring noted his guilty plea, his gratitude to the garda and his remorse. The court heard that Gordon was born in Sligo and his family moved to Dublin when he was a child but he lived back in the county in later years.

5. You were Supposed to use your Powers for Good, not Evil

A cache of missing documents. A mysterious voice on the phone. An unusual ransom demand. It had all the makings of a great script..

James Gantley

James Gantley

 

In October 2011 a van belonging to delivery firm DX Ireland, which was carrying bags of legal documents including papers that had emanated from beloved State behemoth NAMA, was stolen.

Five days later, DX received a phone call from a man calling himself “Frank”. Frank told staff that the people responsible for stealing the documents would burn them if the firm didn’t hand over money.

He said that the thieves wanted a total of €100,000 – which worked at €1,000 for each bag – for the safe return of all of the material.

Frank would pick up the phone a number of times, including placing a call to the firm’s Managing Director, demanding cash for the stolen documents.

In a PG-13 salute to The Big Lebowski, three of the stolen document bags were posted to DX when Frank was asked for proof that his associates had them.

In the phone calls, which were recorded, Frank tried to haggle and demanded amounts between €100,000 and €50,000. Gardai used these recorded phone calls to eventually trace the culprit and arrest him weeks later.

“Frank”, in fact, turned out to be Dublin playwright James Gantley (62), who according to his lawyer had penned some “positively notorious” plays in the 1990s, including the industrial school drama “Abused Together”.

Gantley, who reportedly once went by the nickname “The Whale”, was a convicted armed robber who was jailed for four-and-a-half years in 1987. However, the Dublin native had not been on the garda radar since 1993 and had carved out a career writing for the stage.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Gantley was asked to join the extortion racket because he was good at voice characterisations and experienced in theatre.

Gantley told gardai that he had hoped to make “a few bob” from the operation, but came away with nothing.

After Gantley pleaded guilty to demanding money with menaces from DX staff, Judge Martin Nolan imposed a five-year sentence, suspending it in full.

Judge Nolan said that it was “a close run thing” but it would be unjust to impose an immediate custodial sentence.

“It baffles me what people think up and for the life of me I would never have thought demanding money through menaces of legal documents would be an avenue to enrichment,” the judge remarked.

Gantley, who the court heard suffered from ill health and was the sole carer for his wife, described his offending behaviour as “stupid”.

The stolen mail was recovered in Dublin city in February 2012 during a separate investigation.

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