Third defendant arrested in Garda operation against serious organised crime pleads guilty

Third defendant arrested in Garda operation against serious organised crime pleads guilty

Alison O’Riordan

A third person arrested as part of a garda investigation targeting a serious organised crime gang has pleaded guilty at the non-jury Special Criminal Court on Tuesday morning to having over €350,000 in crime cash.

Thomas Rooney (41) was arrested in May last year after officers of the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) intercepted a number of vehicles in Drogheda and uncovered hundreds of thousands of euro in vacuum-packed notes.

Arraigned on a single charge before the three-judge court on Tuesday, Rooney of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co Meath pleaded guilty to possessing property that is the proceeds of criminal conduct, to wit, a blue Nike bag containing €289,770 and £65,025 (€70,207) in cash, while knowing that or believing that or being reckless as to whether or not the said property was the proceeds of criminal conduct at Spar, Donore Road, Drogheda, Co Louth on May 11, 2020.

Defence counsel John Fitzgerald SC, representing Rooney, told the court that his client may have to have a lung transplant and asked that the case be put in for mention on September 13th.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, remanded Rooney on continuing bail, with a sentence hearing listed for October 4th.

Rooney had also been charged with possessing property that is the proceeds of criminal conduct, to wit, a black bag containing €254,840 in cash, while knowing that or believing that or being reckless as to whether or not the said property was the proceeds of criminal conduct on the same occasion.

He was further charged with possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct, having €7,650 in cash at North Road, Drogheda on May 11th, 2020.

Care worker

Last January, Rooney's former partner, care worker Catherine Dawson (44), also of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co Meath pleaded guilty to two counts on the indictment after she was caught moving over €600,000 in crime cash. Mr Justice Hunt, presiding at the Special Criminal Court, sentenced her to three years and nine months in prison but fully suspended the term for five years.

He said a significant factor in the court's decision was that Ms Dawson is responsible for the primary care of her 14-year-old son.

Last January, Rooney's former partner, care worker Catherine Dawson (44), also of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co Meath pleaded guilty to two counts on the indictment. Photo: Collins Courts

Rooney and Dawson were arrested on suspicion of enhancing the ability of an organised crime gang to commit a serious offence.

Their co-accused Jason Reed (40), whom the court found was a "trusted, high level member of a transnational criminal organisation", was sentenced to seven years in prison.

He had pleaded guilty to money laundering and possessing the proceeds of crime at the car park, when he was in possession of €289,770 in euro and £62,025 (€70,207) in cash in a blue Nike bag.

Reed, of Maelduin, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, also pleaded guilty to money laundering at his home address after €32,330 and £390 (€441) was found there on May 11 of last year.

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