Gardaí seized €1,300 during a drugs search in Cork and yesterday a man applied to have the money returned to him saying that a friend he visited regularly in hospital gave him the money as a gift.
Judge Olann Kelleher refused to direct the return of the money and remarked that the man credited with giving the cash gift had been unable to stop laughing in court throughout his friend’s application.
The money has now been forfeited to the State.
Gerard Flannery, of 131 St Colman’s Road, Farranree, applied to Judge Olann Kelleher under a police property application to have the seized cash returned to him.
Mr Flannery, aged 39, said his friend, Billy Barry, also known as William Noel Barry, of 86 Bridevalley View, Fairhill, had given him a gift of the cash days before the garda raid.
Mr Barry was called as a witness in the application to confirm that he had given Mr Flannery a cash gift of €2,000, days before the €1,300 was seized.
Judge Kelleher said to the witness, Mr Barry, “You were laughing away during the case, you were in stitches during the evidence, weren’t you?”
Mr Barry replied, “That is just my form.”
Sergeant John Kelleher said the money was seized at the same time as the alleged seizure of drugs – the subject of an ongoing investigation.
Mr Flannery testified that his friend gave him a gift of the money.
“He gave me €2,000. He handed it to me in an envelope. He was in an accident. He was in hospital for six or seven months. I used to visit him all the time. He was nearly dead.”
Judge Kelleher asked: “Did he know what he was doing when he gave you the €2,000? Was his mind OK?”
Mr Flannery said Mr Barry was fine when he gave him the money but he said: “He got a bad beating. He was in Dun Laoghaire for rehabilitation. I used to visit him all the time in Dun Laoghaire.”
Mr Barry told solicitor Diane Hallahan that he was giving “everyone and anyone” loans when he got compensation for the criminal injury and that they would pay him back from time to time. He said he handed his friend Mr Flannery €2,000 in cash from his pocket.
Questioned further by the judge, he said that as well as people repaying him loans he gave them, he was withdrawing cash from the bank around that time. Judge Kelleher said it was amazing this application was being made without any bank receipt or bank account transaction document being put in evidence.
At the conclusion of evidence from Mr Flannery and Mr Barry, the judge said: “I don’t believe a word I am being told. No receipts, no dates that he gave the money.
"His (Mr Barry’s) attitude was laughing away when his friend was giving evidence.”
The judge said that, for instance, Mr Barry told him he gave Mr Flannery’s brother in Dublin €2,000 too. But the judge said the man who came up from Cork every day was given the same amount of money as the man based in Dublin who visited once a week.
Judge Kelleher asked: “Why didn’t you give him (Gerard Flannery) more?”
Mr Barry replied, “I gave him enough.”