Going after gang was what anyone would do
THE man who turned his car around and followed the vehicle towing his caravan has spoken about the incident following the conviction of three men for handling stolen property.
David Griffin from Camlough was in Dundalk District Court last week for the case which saw three men from Dublin enter not guilty pleas to the charges arising out of the incident on January 25 2016.
He explained how he initially thought his wife may have given permission to his brother to take it, but soon found out this was not the case when he contacted her - it was no longer in its usual spot at the side of their home.
Mr Griffin said: ‘I rang the police (PSNI) to tell them what was happening and I was heading towards the motorway. Then, I was getting close to the border and the police said that if you cross the border there is nothing they could do but they forwarded me through to the Gardai’.
All the while, Mr Griffin stayed four or five of cars behind the Isuzu, with blacked out windows, that was pulling his caravan. He had no idea who or how many was in the vehicle.
He said: ‘ The men had no idea they were being followed. At the Ballymac junction, I told Gardai where we were and they told me to stay back and I did.
‘About five minutes later, the Gardai pulled up alongside me and I pulled in behind them’. Four squad cars, including one with members of the armed Regional Response Unit (RSU) pulled the Izusu over and Garda Finbarr Gurhy and Patricia Sloyan made the arrests.
He praised the work of the Gardai in making the arrests and bringing the case to court. He said: ‘ The Gardai were 100% I have to say. These guys were caught within 20 minutes and they didn’t spare the resources in catching them, with the RSU and other backup there when it was called’.
Mr Griffin saw it all unfolded on the hard shoulder of the motorway, just before the junction 18 exit. He said he was prompted to take action after his father’s caravan had been stolen two years before. He said: ‘I was angry about what had happened with my father. He never got it back and although Gardai had contacted him a few times to ask him to view different caravans they had seized, they weren’t his and his was never found.
‘What happened on this day was just luck, really, I was heading to school for a meeting and just happened to see it. I live on a country road, just 20 minutes from Dundalk, and I felt that if I didn’t go after the caravan I would probably never see it again’.
And, remarkably, Mr Griffin said he ‘was never afraid at any stage’ during the incident. ‘It was in the heat of the moment. Anyone would have done the same the same thing’.
Around April last year, Gardai were able to return the caravan to the Griffins, but having it ‘just wasn’t the same’. Since this incident, the family has improved security around their house, installing CCTV. In the aftermath of the arrests, the family felt their home ‘ had been watched’ in the run-up to the theft.
He said that while he was pleased the case was heard relatively quickly in the district court he felt that the community service given to the defendant was ‘very lenient’.