Casino events

The Irishman who assaulted 73 years of his casino winnings to stay in jail

Posted: May 26, 2022, 9:48 a.m.

Last update: May 26, 2022, 10:13 a.m.

A septuagenarian who won a small fortune at a local Irish casino six years ago was victimized by muggers soon after. His attackers will pay for their crimes, and at least one will remain in jail until his sentencing hearing.

Fitzwilliams Casino & Card Club
The Fitzwilliam Casino & Card Club in Dublin, Ireland, before it closed in 2019. A player who won while playing roulette became a victim in 2016, and the latest attacker appeared in court. (Image: Dublin live)

In October 2016, the unidentified casino customer won €23,000 (US$24,639) at the Fitzwilliam Casino & Card Club, according to the Irish mirror. Unbeknownst to her, someone had been watching her the whole time. Brian English, 32, kept an eye on her after her win.

English was just the observer. He then told his two accomplices, Iancu Nicola and Declan Connolly, of the 73-year-old’s good fortune. They followed her home and waited to pounce.

Nicola then robbed the victim as she received mail from her mailbox outside her house. They allegedly dragged the woman down an embankment during the assault and left her with severe bruises and cuts.

Thieves Without Borders

Nicola, 30, fled the scene after the attack. It will take five years and an international manhunt to find him before police arrest him in Romania. After his arrest in October 2021, authorities brought him back to Ireland under a European Arrest Warrant.

Since then, he has been detained pending sentencing. Nicola now had her initial appearance and pleaded guilty to robbery outside the woman’s Templeogue home. Prior to his arrest, he also had six previous convictions for unspecified traffic offences.

Judge Melanie Greally took Nicola into custody until November 1 for his sentence. This was in response to a request from his attorney, Ian Woodland, for a probation service report.

Woodland claimed his client was involved in the crime due to a gambling addiction. He added that Nicola’s sister had €18,000 (US$19,290) that she was willing to give to the victim.

Connolly, 41, received his sentence in November 2019 after pleading guilty. The judge gave him five years behind bars, although he suspended the last two and a half years. English only received a three-year suspended sentence.

English, of Dublin, pleaded guilty to stealing the woman’s money. Gardai discovered he was acting as a “spotter” that evening and gave information about the victim.

Hunt down the culprits

Detective Peter Lyons said the Gardai had reviewed large amounts of CCTV footage in the area and concluded the getaway vehicle had fake number plates. Despite the attempted subterfuge, the footage helped identify the vehicle, which investigators believe belonged to Connolly.

They then visited him at his home and carried out a search. The Gardai seized his mobile phone during the search, and an analysis of the data made it possible to determine the chain of events.

CCTV footage taken at the Fitzwilliam, which closed in 2019, captured English as he watched the victim’s activities. It was there that she had won the money playing roulette. As in Connolly’s case, police searched his home and took his phone for analysis.

This analysis showed that communication was occurring between the phones until the time the woman left the casino. CCTV footage also showed English approaching Connolly’s car.

Lyons admitted the Englishman was most likely out of his league when he agreed to link up with the other two. He told the court he did not believe English would commit any further crimes. English was willing to pay €6,500 (US$6,963) in an attempt to atone for his participation.

The policeman had a similar view of Connolly. He admitted that he had never been convicted of violence and that he had no criminal record. He acknowledged he had a “positive work history”, as well as a family.

Connolly also alleged gambling addiction as the reason for his participation. He sought to make amends like English, offering to pay €5,000 (US$5,346) in court.