'A very nasty offence': Getaway driver for armed gang who broke into a Cork home jailed 

'A very nasty offence': Getaway driver for armed gang who broke into a Cork home jailed 

The judge imposed a three-year sentence. Stock image.

An armed gang broke into a house in Midleton, forced the owner to the floor, put a jacket over his head, barricaded him into a bathroom and snatched €50,000 in cash from a safe.

Now the Lithuanian getaway driver – who never set foot in the house on the night – has been sentenced to three years imprisonment for his part in the crime.

Garda Kieran Crowley said at Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Raimondas Rapolavicius of no fixed address was arrested in Lithuania on a European arrest warrant and brought back to Cork last July.

He pleaded guilty to a charge of burglary on December 12 2015 at Carrig Liath, Castleredmond, Midleton, County Cork.

Siobhán Lankford defence senior counsel said the accused had been in custody since July last year between the time spent in jail in Ireland and Lithuania in relation to this.

Ms Lankford asked Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin to take account of this period of almost a year already spent in custody and to make a deportation order on Rapolavicius and suspend the balance of any sentence.

The defence lawyer said, “I don’t believe he knew what was going to happen in the house. 

"I don’t believe he fully understood the extent of what was going to happen. He has no convictions in Europe or internationally.

“He was involved in a very low level in this enterprise. He was very helpful to gardaí. He spared the injured party the ordeal of a possible trial.” 

Ms Lankford also said that the 38-year-old was using heroin at the time and was to have been paid in drugs rather than monetarily for his involvement.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said, “I take a different view. 

"This man knowingly got involved in a very serious crime. 

"He may not have known the full extent of it but he became the driver of others involved in a very nasty offence. I don’t think deportation is a sufficient response.

“There are many aggravating factors – making himself available, driving the car after the event and absenting himself.

“I will make allowance for the fact that he has virtually no English and the extra hardship that causes for someone serving a sentence here.” 

The judge imposed a three-year sentence, backdated to July 24 last year when he went into custody and he refused an application to suspend any portion of it.

Det. Garda Crowley said that on the night of December 12 2015 three men entered the home at the address in Midleton, carrying hand guns and a Taser and forced the young man living there to the floor. They put a jacket over his head and took €50,000 in cash from a safe.

“The three males placed the young man in a downstairs bathroom and barricaded the door and left in the vehicle which was nearby. The accused was the getaway driver.

“The accused had the least part compared to others,” the detective said.

Rapolavicius appeared at Cork Circuit Criminal Court by video link from Cork prison and a Lithuanian interpreter was present in court for the sentencing hearing.

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