Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Court told bearded man tried to rob Irish bank disguised as woman

Two men tried to rob a building society while one was dressed as a wheelchair-bound woman -- but still sporting a light beard.

Martin Collins (21) arrived at the building society in an ill-fitting suit, having previously made an appointment with the manager, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court has heard.

His accomplice, although dressed as a woman, was unshaven and wearing a poor-quality, black wig.

Collins claimed the 'woman' had been awarded ?2.9m by the State and wanted to invest it.

Collins (20) of Neilstown Gardens, Clondalkin, pleaded guilty to attempted robbery at Permanent TSB on Lower Kilmacud Road, Stillorgan, on October 20 2010.

Judge Martin Nolan jailed him for three years.

His co-accused is to face trial later in the year.

Garda David L'Estrange said the manager of the building society, Michael Doyle, received a phone call from a woman with a strong Dublin accent wanting to make an appointment for her brother and sister and claimed the sister had over ?2m and wanted to buy a house.

Mr Doyle and the assistant manager met with Collins and his co-accused and he noticed the woman sitting in the wheelchair was wearing a poor quality black wig. He also noted the suit Collins wore did not seem to fit him properly.

Collins pushed his co-accused into the manager's office, leaving the wheelchair facing the door.

The co-accused in the wheelchair then stood up and produced what Mr Doyle thought was a shotgun.

The co-accused shouted, "Get down on the floor" and Mr Doyle then realised it was a male, with an unshaven face, dressed as a woman.

Mr Doyle told gardai he realised then the weapon was a hatchet made to look like a gun.

"Would you ever f**k off," the manager shouted at the raiders before telling them to "stop being stupid".

Collins, who has 55 previous convictions, produced a similar weapon and struck the manager on the back of the leg, causing him to bleed.

Both men ran from the building society empty-handed to a waiting car and sped towards Blackrock. Gardai arrested the two men a short time later.

Gda L'Estrange agreed with James Dwyer, defending, that the co-accused appeared to be the "mastermind of the operation."

Mr Dwyer said that Collins, who had a drug problem since the age of 15, took part in the robbery to pay off a drugs debt. He was now drug-free, the court was told.

"It was frightening but not professionally carried out. It was a shambolic operation," said Mr Dwyer.

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