High Court reporters
Properties, vehicles, cash and a gold Rolex watch linked to two alleged leading figures in a Drogheda organised crime gang have been deemed proceeds of crime by the High Court.
The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) successfully applied for orders under the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act off the back of an extensive Garda investigation into Owen and Brendan Maguire.
The bureau alleged Owen Maguire, who was paralysed from the chest down after being shot in July 2018, jointly controls and directs the Price-Maguire organised crime group, while it said Brendan Maguire is also a senior and active member.
The Price-Maguire group allegedly controls the distribution of controlled drugs in the east and northeast of the country, particularly in Drogheda but extending into Meath and Dublin, the court heard on Wednesday.
The bureau claimed the wider group has been involved in several violent criminal feuds and gardaí believe some of its members were involved in murders.
The Maguires have not been charged or convicted for any of the alleged activities, but the Cab said they have frequently come to the attention of gardaí.
Ruling on the application on Wednesday, Mr Justice Alexander Owens said the bureau’s belief that each of 13 listed assets, seized during various searches of properties linked to the two men, were purchased with crime proceeds is “well-founded and well-supported by the general evidence which is a result of an impressive investigation”.
There was “no indication” as to how the pair came to acquire such large sums of money for the joint purchase of two properties: one at Tullynaskeagh, Co Cavan, and the other in Garran, Co Monaghan.
Mr Justice Owens also found it “utterly incomprehensible” that the men derived enough earnings from a supposed scrap metal business to afford a €16,500 Rolex watch.
Various sums of cash, totalling €305,000, seized from properties and a holding site, could also not be put down to legitimate earnings, and it was more probable than not that the money represented proceeds of crime, he held.
Significant to making these findings was the evidence from documents for credit union loans and withdrawals that give “blatantly false” information for the source of the funds, said the judge.
These records act as “silent witnesses”, indicating the brothers were unable to produce honest explanations for the money, he added.
Barrister Daragh Breen, for the Cab, said Brendan Maguire had been served with the proceedings at an address in Rochdale, Manchester, while documents were left at an address at Cement Road, Drogheda, for Owen Maguire.
Neither showed up in court.
In documents opened to the court, the Cab alleged Owen Maguire used a vehicle recovery business as a front for his direct involvement in the distribution of controlled drugs.
His purchase of a 171 Mercedes Benz, a transit van and the watch cannot be explained by reference to his “very limited income”, the bureau alleged.
After ruling the listed items were proceeds of crime, Mr Justice Owens made an order granting a receiver power to sell the two vehicles and the Rolex.
He adjourned a further receivership application relating to the two properties.