‘f***ing ride’ | 

Bank robber with Belfast roots opens up on life of crime and his brush with the IRA

Sean Dalton fled to Ireland while dodging debts in the US, before being given “24 hours to leave” by the IRA

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Maeve McTaggartSunday World

A bank robber with Belfast roots has revealed the behind-the-scenes of his life of crime in America – and run-in with the IRA in Ireland.

Sean Martin Dalton (56) has opened up about the “f***ing ride” of heists that earned him almost $200k, money he burned on drugs, hotels and escorts.

His mum, Noreen, is a Belfast woman who married a New York firefighter named Maurice, staying home in their Queens neighbourhood to care for their five children.

Sean quickly began to make trouble – descending into crime the young age of 14, he told the New York Post.

As a teenager, he says he realised that “money brought happiness. At first, it’s candy from the corner store. Then it’s movies, clothes, girls.”

He was offered a ‘job’ selling cannabis in a local park, making $2,000 on “a good day” – though was soon caught by police.

Officers took him home to his firefighter father and Northern Irish mum, where his dad told cops to “take him to f***ing jail — he wants to be a tough guy, let him go to jail.”

Noreen talked everyone down, Sean told the New York Post, and he stayed at home.

During this time, he was consistently using drugs, having long since graduated from just selling cannabis in the local park.

Multiple warrants for his arrest stacked up form the age of 17 before he ended up in the notorious Rikers prison.

“Rikers Island is the worst f***ing place in the world,” he said.

"The minute you enter that f***ing place, you have to turn into becoming a savage animal. If not, you are f***ing prey.”

He owed money to dangerous people when he got out, fleeing to Ireland in 1989 to dodge debts.

There, he met a girl and got her pregnant – not meeting his son Ruairi for another 12 years when he visited his father in Staten Island Prison.

Sean missed the birth of his child as a bar fight with an alleged IRA member prompted threats against his life.

The 56-year-old now says the IRA gave him 24 hours to flee the country before they would “blow his knee caps off with a pistol.”

Penniless and homeless upon his return to the Big Apple, Sean decided he was going to rob a bank.

It started a five year stint robbing 18 banks. Sean believes he stole around $196,000 in this time.

“I liked to stay at the Doral, the Waldorf, the Plaza. Five Star places that offered the best service from pillows to blow jobs. I didn’t care about money — if it ran out I went to get more.”

The bank robber says he checked into rehab as a means to avoid the police, staying clean for a few months at a time.

“I used to have five, six hotel keys in my pocket. I’d be bouncing in and out of hotel rooms like I owned them,” he said.

His biggest haul in one go was $22k, cash he burned on the usual drugs, escorts and luxury hotels.

At this point – around 1997 – he was smoking $500 worth of crack and doing $100 of heroin every day, he told the NY Post.

He was finally apprehended when someone recognised him, as police had circulated his photo around to all the five-star hotels.

Sean served 10 years and three months in prison, he was released a free man in 2008 at the age of 41.

He now works as a plumber.

“It was some ride man. That life I lived, it was a f***ing ride,” he said.

"The story, the people, it never ended. It just never ended. It was drugs every day, money every day. It just never ended. You know, people ask, ‘Do you regret what you do?’ Yeah, I regret what I did.

"But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Because I’m the type of person who believes if you change something you might not be here today. And I’m here today for a reason.

“Because I did rob those banks, and I did get away. And the cops didn’t kill me. And I went to prison, and I served my time. And I’m still here today. I pick and choose what I want to do today. You know, I pick and choose my fights.”

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