A MAN who told gardaí he had €5,000 in cash because his child was sick received a 22-month sentence for money laundering at Carlow Circuit Court recently. Anthony Regan (35) of Larchville, Waterford pleaded guilty to possession of property that is the proceeds of criminal conduct and being reckless as to whether or not the property was the proceeds of criminal conduct at Carlow Bus Park.
Prosecuting garda Darragh Meagher Khan gave evidence of what occurred on 5 February 2021. The garda, who was attached to the drugs unit at the time, said an anonymous call came into the public office of Carlow Garda Station. The caller, using a withheld number, said that a male and two females were travelling on a bus through Carlow with a large volume of cash or drugs.
Garda Meagher Khan and Garda Aisling Duhig went to Carlow Bus Station, where they observed the defendant at the rear of a bus arriving into the bus park. Mr Regan began moving suspiciously when he observed the garda patrol car. Gardaí boarded the bus and asked Mr Regan the purpose of his travel. The defendant was very nervous and there was a smell of cannabis, the garda noted.
The garda conducted a search and €5,000 cash in €50 notes was found in a breast pocket of a jacket in front of the defendant. Mr Regan said the jacket and money were his.
Mr Regan told gardaí at the time that the money was to be used to stay up in Dublin as he had a young child in hospital.
He said €3,000 had come from his brother, with other money coming from other family members. The defendant’s phone was also seized, and its contents downloaded by gardaí.
Garda Meagher Khan described the defendant as “the most unco-operative prisoner I have ever dealt with, by far”.
The defendant told gardaí at the time: “I do not want to contact my solicitor, but I will bring her tomorrow, when I get my money back.”
The defendant’s brother was contacted and he claimed he had given Mr Regan €3,000 to buy a vehicle. The brother said he would provide gardaí with documentation to prove this, but he never did. The defendant’s girlfriend had also said the money was hers at the time, but Mr Regan had rejected this.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly asked Garda Meagher Khan whether there had actually been a sick child. The garda replied he had been unable to confirm it, but “strongly disputed that version was truthful”.
Mr Regan had 103 previous convictions, including 58 for road traffic offences and for other firearm, drugs and robbery matters.
Defending barrister David Roberts BL agreed with Judge Eugene O’Kelly that his client was a recidivist offender. Mr Roberts said his client apologised to the garda for not co-operating on the day and for being difficulty.
Mr Roberts said the offence should be seen in context of his client’s addiction issues. The defendant had dabbled in drugs before becoming addicted to heroin five years ago. The court was told the defendant was currently in prison on remand, but was doing well. He had undergone detox and had not picked up any disciplinary issues. He was working as a cleaner on his prison landing and was also doing some barber work.
Mr Roberts said his client was supported by his family and was a father of two. It was hoped he would enter residential treatment and take up available work upon his release, said Mr Roberts.
The case had initially been due to be contested, but a plea was entered at the current sessions of the circuit court.
Judge O’Kelly said there were a number of aggravating factors in the case, including the defendant’s record and his false story to gardaí.
Judge O’Kelly said it was not possible to say what other criminal enterprises were involved in the case, but that money laundering was an “essential component of a criminal organisation to carry out criminal offences”.
Judge O’Kelly deemed the headline sentence in the case to be three years. The sentence was reduced by eight months due to mitigation and backdated to last December, when the defendant went into custody.