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Ex-Connacht captain Clarke forced at gunpoint to aid getaway

“I’ve got a couple of kids at home,” the 33-year-old pleaded with the armed robbers.

Clarke celebrates after Connacht's famous win in Toulouse.
Clarke celebrates after Connacht's famous win in Toulouse.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

RETIRED SECOND ROW Craig Clarke, who captained Connacht during the 2013/14 season before being forced to quit the game due to concussion, today told a New Zealand court how thieves held him at gunpoint while he drove a car chased by police.

In May last year, the 33-year-old stopped to help two men who waved him down on a roadside in Taranaki, as report.

However, the men were actually in the midst of a getaway from an antique store robbery. And having abandoned the original vehicle, Daryl Ross O’Connell held a gun to Clarke and demanded he drive them to the town of Normanby.

Clarke, who captained the Chiefs to a Super Rugby title and Taranaki to a Ranfurly Shield, told police that he pleaded with O’Connell, saying: ”I’ve got a couple of kids at home.”

The two men were apprehended shortly after running from Clarke’s vehicle in Normanby. The jewellery stolen from the antique store, where a 72-year-old woman was working alone, was recovered from O’Connell’s original getaway vehicle.

Judge Chris Sygrove handed down a sentence of four years and three months to O’Connell, finding him guilty of robbery, kidnapping and dangerous driving.

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Sean Farrell

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