Cork trial hears of £175,000 cash in plastic bags

Friday 14 February 2014 22.51
Timothy Cunningham denies a total of nine charges of money laundering
Timothy Cunningham denies a total of nine charges of money laundering

A money laundering trial in Cork has heard how a man carried £175,000 in £20 sterling notes in two Blarney Woollen Mills bags into a property developer's office as security for a loan.

Timothy Cunningham Snr, 65, of Woodbine Lodge, Farran, Co Cork, denies a total of nine charges of money laundering relating to the Northern Bank robbery in Belfast in 2004.

Giving evidence at Cork Circuit Criminal Court today was John Sheehan, who owned Cúl na Gréine House in Ballincollig, Co Cork, where he and Mr Cunningham had offices.

Mr Sheehan said he got a call on 5 February 2005 asking him if he would lend Mr Cunningham €200,000 for a period of six to eight weeks.

He told the court he did not want to give Mr Cunningham the money, but that Mr Cunningham told him he would give him sterling.

"I said, why don't you put the sterling in the bank. I didn't really want to give him money. He said he needed sterling to pay for a conservatory he was buying in Northern Ireland. I said, if you give me sterling I will loan it (€200,000) to you."

He said Mr Cunningham arrived into his office carrying two plastic bags with £175,000 on 7 February.

Mr Sheehan said it was British sterling made up in various bundles, which he put in a walk-in safe.

"He asked for three separate cheques, €100,000, €44,000 and €56,000, all made payable to himself," Mr Sheehan told the court.

He said he heard news on 17 February 2005 that Mr Cunningham was being investigated.

Mr Sheehan said he called the gardaí and told them he had dealings with Mr Cunningham.

He said two gardaí visited him, counted the money in the safe, which totalled £175,000, gave him a receipt and took it away.

Cross-examined by Hugh Hartnett defence senior counsel, Mr Sheehan said it was probably fair comment that he was flush with money at the time.

Mr Sheehan said Mr Cunningham also appeared to be doing well as he was driving a new Mercedes and his partner was driving a new BMW.

The trial before a jury of five women and seven men and Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin will continue next week.