Confessions of a Bank Robber
He claims to have at least 20 armed robberies to his credit, including banks, post offices, factories and shops. He is tall, fair haired and in his late twenties and lives in a corporation flat in North Dublin. He is married with one small daughter. Though he finds it difficult to put a figure on what he earns in a year he says that he probably has a turnover of around £1 0,000 a year, but that he probably spends more than that. He says he has done about six armed jobs this year, the largest one netting himself around £3,500. A number of independent sources back up his claim to be what he says he is, a professional armed robber. This is his story:
I was born in one of the worst slum areas in the city. There were eight of us in the family plus me mother and me old fella. I was the third eldest. I was never interested in soccer or anything like that though later on I did a bit of boxing. It was funny even then I had some sort of complex about houses. I never bothered with them much, always thought they was too small to be worth bothering with.
"And then there was me old fella, if he'd have caught me he'd have broken me up. But even that didn't keep me away for long. When I did start it was. on robbing cars. I'm the only one in the family into crime though I did have a
brother who did a bit of shoplifting at one time. No, me father was never a criminal, he was always a straight fella.
"The first time I got caught we was in a shop when the old bill came and we had to leg it up and out over the roof. Me mate went through the skylight. He was a right mess. They had to cut out a 100 stitches in him in the end. While he was lying there I was screaming for the coppers. I don't know how old we were at the time, around 12 or 13 or so I supppose" .
He pauses to go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, serving it in cracked cups. "Looks good don't it, big time bank robber serving up tea in cracked mugs." He has sent his wife out for the evening and he is minding the baby daughter. He points to the odd pieces of baby equipment, walker pram, etc. "If I didn't do what I do how could I afford this lot for the kiddie?
"No, we never ended up in court on the shop job, we just got a caution from the sergeant. But then we got caught on something or other and I ended up doing a month in St. Pats. That scared the hell out 0 f me. They took all me clothes .off and made me wear this long shirt that came down to me knees and made me parade in front of all the others on the block. They do it to everybody. That was the longest month of me ·life. I don't know why but I couldn't eat the food, couldn't eat nothing, the only conversation was about crime.
"Anyhow I waslucky enough when I got out I got the job back that I had before on this delivery van. I was just hanging round though. Maybe I'd go out with the other fellows and do a wages snatch on a Wednesday, but then we'd blow it all playing cards or something."
While he is talking, kids are running round the block. Everyone knows his occupation, but he says nobody ever bothers him because his neighbours are in similar occupations. "They respect you if you've got a few bob" he says with a smile.
"But the first time I realised that I was going to have a go full time on crime was when I got sacked from the delivery round. I turned 18 and if they'd kept me on they'd have had to pay me a man's wages so they sacked me.
"So it was then that more or less I went into housebreaking. Having workked on the delivery round I knew all the houses in the area.
"We'd meet in a pub every morning and get through five flats in a day. We went on fine for a while until someone greased on us on a job when we touchhed a couple of grands worth of stuff.
"Me and me mate got taken down to the police station and we got a bit of a hiding from half a dozen of the detecctives, you know they booted us up the arse and hit us over the face with their motor cycle gloves.
"Then they put the lights out and started to bang on the walls with chair legs to scare us. That must have gone on for an hour or two. Me mate, well he broke, and told them everything and he got nine months for it, but after a while they just threw me out of the station. I didn't tell them nothing. I'd have broken every bone in his body if he'd have told them I was in on it. No, he wouldn't have dared do that."
While he is talking he has put a cigarrette down in the ashtray and he now lifts his baby daughter from her walker, starts to change her nappies.
"After that scare, I got a permanent sort of a job, no I'm not telling you where, and I was going straight. But the problem was that I couldn't keep up with me mates. Hanging round with these fellows, I was spending in two nights what I earned in a week.
"I was accepted by the robbers beecause they knew I wasn't a grass and I was invited to go out on jobs, but I allways declined. But then someone came up with a stake that I'd always wanted to do. I was asked in a pub if I'd do it, so I said I would. I had a motorbike and had a personal rod myself, a .38. I'd had it for three years, well wrapped up in Dinzo tape and hidden away. I did the job during me dinner hour from work. We used to get out for dinner at 12.30 but I slipped out at 12.00 and was back so I had me alibi. So that was it really we were really going again."
Looking round the corporation flat it is difficult to find any evidence of a life of luxury. There is a fur coat draped over a doorway, a stereo in one corner. and a colour TV in another but they look rather incongruous in the plainness of the corporation flat. By this time he has finished with the baby and is playying with her as she wriggles around in her walker.
"When we got off the ground again we were doing banks, post offices, all that sort of thing. On the post offices, we'd creep into the postmaster's house and get hold of the whole family and tie them up."
While he is talking there is a tap on the window and a little girl shouts in that she needs lOp. Reaching into his pocket, he goes over to the window and gives her the l Op and in return reeceives a note saying that he has just been conned out of lOp and that he has been elected president of the Dumb Fuckers Club of Dublin. He laughs and throws the note away.
"We'd do the post offices to get posstal orders and insurance stamps. You get roughly half price for the insurance stamps. After you've done a few post offices, you've collected enough stamps to be able to cash the postal orders without arousing too much suspicion.
"I always had me gun when we went out on the jobs and I had a few rounds for it, but they got damp so I suppose at that stage it wasn't much use. Someetimes at the beginning we'd go in with a toy gun. All this talk in the paper of brokers hiring out guns and equipment, it's a lot of bollocks. I can remember one raid I was on when there was six of us in an old Escort. You think I can just ring someone up and order a bloody Granada or something or a pistol or whatever? You must be bloody joking.
"And all this talk of villians going round in fancy cars and all that. Well, there are some who might have a Jag or an Alfa Romeo, but what they never put in the papers is that the Mercedes is probably a 1969 model worth a couple of hundred quid and the drivers likely to get nicked for driving without tax or insurance.
"And then there's this talk of orrganised crime, of the Godfathers, well I've never heard about it and I know what's going on. There is one old fell a who might organise a particular job he might mention to someone about a particular blag and then get guns from someone else, a car from another place, you know. But his cut from that would only be around £500."
He agrees to describe without names a particular job but in the end he never quite does. He appears to be puttting together bits and pieces of different jobs, presumably, so that he can't be identified.
"Well, a couple of weeks ago we deecided we was getting a bit low so we deecided we had to pull a stroke. We had a decent wage van set up but the security arrangements for collection of the money changed so we had to touch for a jug (rob a bank). You only do a jug when you're low, they're the most danngerous.
"So how do we prepare for the job? Well the four of us go off in different directions and then come back and deecide which jug looks the most likely. When you're picking out your jug you're looking for all sorts of things. You're looking at the counter to/ see if its low enough to scramble over, is there money on display, is it a small enough jug that you can get into the vault. You're watching for money being withhdrawn and if it's near a factory for workers in cashing their pay cheques.
"But your route (getaway) that's the most important thing. You've got to do your route and go over it again and again until you've got it right.
"Now on the job I'm thinking of, we were originally going to use a car. That would have been parked just down a side lane, a cui de sac just a couple of minutes from the bank. Then we'd have got up onto the roof of the car and over onto the wall and down the other side where the bikes would have been waiting. It's always important to have that kind of block in your getaway where a chasing car can't get any furrther.
"One of the times I've used me gun was when we were on top of a wall and a squad car was behind us and I let fire into the radiator of the car to give the others a chance to get over the wall and then they covered me with pistols while I was getting over.
"But what ever happens on a stroke, you've got to stick to your route. That's absolutely basic. You also want to be looking for a flat or some kind of safe house a good while before you do a job, you can't stay hanging round in the streets. I've often rented a flat specially for the job.
"No, I wouldn't use a gun unless I had to because of the danger to citizennry. What I do quite often is let off a shot into the ceiling just to get everyyone's heads down.
He finds it difficult to give a figure on how much he earns, but eventually says he thinks he turns over around £10,000 a year. With that sort of money, what is he still doing in a corrportaion flat? He seems puzzled by the question.
"Well, why should I move? This is me home here. Now I'm not a businesssman. If I want a suite of furniture, or a car or something then I just go and buy it with cash. I've got about £5,000 stashed away right now though. But it soon goes. I'm a devil for the birds, me, and I love going down the country. And like I said the overheads on a job is very high, you're always putting your money back in. And then you might have to go bail for people."
So what sort of life does a bank robber lead? Again he has to think for a moment. "Well it's pretty ordinary I suppose. I get up fairly early in the morning. I'm not one of those idle bastards that spends all day in bed. Once you've been inside you've done enough hanging round without doing it when you're outside too.
"So I'm on the go most of the time, hustling round looking for a job. I might be in a pub and start chatting up a bloke who works in a bank and ask him innocent like, what's going on in the area, get him talking.
"Except when I'm down the country or doing something like that, in the evenings I'm generally down the pub having a few pints. Simple sort of life really .•