A healthcare worker who used a company car to move over €600,000 in criminal cash has been given a suspended sentenced at the Special Criminal Court for money laundering offences.

Forty-four-year-old Catherine Dawson from Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown in Co Meath, was arrested by officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau with the money in two bags at a supermarket car park in Co Louth in May of last year.

The three judges accepted that she was a useful cover for the organised crime group but had no network of criminal contacts and was not on the "garda radar".

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said she had destroyed her reputation and standing in the community and changed the future course of her life forever.

Catherine Dawson was arrested by officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in Drogheda last May on suspicion of enhancing the ability of an organised crime gang to commit a serious offence.

The community supervisor who has level 8 qualifications in dementia care pleaded guilty to two money laundering charges after she was caught with over €600,000 in cash.

She was stopped driving away with the money in the marked healthcare company car which allowed her to travel without raising the suspicions of the gardaí during the pandemic.

She admitted possession of €289,770 and £62.025 sterling (€70,207) in a Nike bag and possession of €254,840 in a black bag.

Both offences took place at the Spar supermarket on the Donore Road in Drogheda. The money was the proceeds of crime.

Catherine Dawson has no previous convictions and no history of mental illness but her counsel said she has been on anti-depressants as a consequence of these events.

The court heard today that she admonishes herself completely for her actions and has apologised to her employer for the use of the car. She is ashamed, feels worthless and suffers stress anxiety as a result of her arrest.

Her relationship has broken down and she has moved out of the family home and is living in rented accommodation.

The court also heard she intends to work in whatever job is available. She is caring for her 14-year-old son and her other son, who is 22, is offering her support and help.

She knew nothing of the background of the money which was linked to drug trafficking, organised crime and Thomas Maher, a facilitator for international crime gangs including the Kinahan organised crime gang who is currently serving 14 years in jail in the UK.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said there was no evidence Catherine Dawson was involved with the gang or received any benefit from moving the money.

He sentenced her to three years and nine months but suspended it on condition she be of good behaviour for five years.