A Dublin father-of-three who hid over €870,000 in cash at a rural property in Co Cavan has been jailed for four years.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Jonathon O’Connor (38) could not reveal to gardai who owned the money because “his life would be in danger”.
O’Connor, of Elm Road, Donnycarney, Dublin, pleaded guilty to a single charge of money laundering at an address in Dromore, Bailieboro, Co Cavan, on July 28, 2020. He has no previous convictions.
Detective Garda Mark Buckley told Fiona McGowan BL, prosecuting, that on the morning of July 28, gardai carried out of surveillance operation at the address in Cavan.
The court heard that gardai entered the property and made themselves know to O’Connor.
The accused man immediately informed gardai that there was €80,000 in cash in his car, which he had driven to the property that morning, along with his children.
Gardai proceeded to search a number of sheds and outhouses on the property, and ultimately discovered 21 separate cash exhibits, amounting to €870,620, plus an additional £14,890.
Satisfied that the money was procured through criminal activity, gardai arrested the defendant and travelled to Navan Garda Station. O’Connor was interviewed and admitted to transporting the money and holding it at the address in Bailieborough.
When probed by gardai, he said he could not reveal who owed the money, as “his life would be in danger”, the court heard.
O’Connor told gardai that he had had a disagreement with an individual “a few months ago” and as a result he was forced to hold the money.
Asked by Judge Martin Nolan where the money might have come from, Det Garda Buckley answered, “the drug trade”.
Dean Kelly SC, defending, outlined O’Connor’s mitigation, noting that he made full admissions to gardai and was co-operative throughout the investigation.
Mr Kelly asked the court to be as lenient as possible in sentencing, saying that O’Connor would be a “grievous and substantial loss” to his family.
Judge Nolan, handing down sentencing, accepted O’Connor’s “excellent mitigation” – a long work history, clean record, relationship with his children – but said that a custodial sentence was deserved.
Money laundering is a “serious offence”, Judge Nolan said. He noted that O’Connor “knew what he was getting into”, and for reasons unknown to the court, felt some obligation to the third party connected to the money.
Judge Nolan sentenced O’Connor to four years imprisonment.