Court told of Garda belief Cunningham was in IRA

 

A GARDA inspector told a court yesterday he believed a 60-year-old businessman was a member of the IRA when he searched the man’s house under warrant. Insp Declan O’Sullivan conducted the search after receiving information from a senior officer that an IRA gang was operating in Cork.

He said that he believed from information given to him by Det Chief Supt Tony Quilter when obtaining the warrant and from the discovery of money at another house in Cork that financial adviser Ted Cunningham was a member of the IRA.

“I was looking for evidence in relation to membership of an unlawful organisation,” said Insp O’Sullivan who led the search which uncovered £2.3 million sterling hidden in six holdall bags and a Dunnes Stores plastic bag in a cupboard in the basement of Mr Cunningham’s house.

Ted Cunningham denies 20 charges of money laundering including one of possessing £3,010,380 at Farran between December 20th, 2004 and February 16th, 2005, and knowing or believing it to be the proceeds of robbery at the Northern Bank Cash Centre in Belfast.

Insp O’Sullivan told counsel for Mr Cunningham, Ciarán O’Loughlin SC that he no longer believed Mr Cunningham was a member of the IRA but at the time that he obtained the warrant he did believe him to be a member of an IRA unit based in Cork.

The discovery of sterling at a house in Douglas in Cork city earlier on the night of February 16th, 2005 along with the discovery of euro in a Daz box at Heuston Station in Dublin corroborated the information given to him by Det Chief Supt Quilter, he said.

Yesterday was the 15th day of the trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court. The jury was shown videos of interviews between gardaí and Ted Cunningham after his arrest in which Mr Cunningham denied that he was in the IRA and said he had obtained the money found in his house from some Bulgarians seeking to buy a sand and gravel pit.

Mr Cunningham told gardaí that he part-owned the sand and gravel pit at Shinrone, Co Offaly with David O’Sullivan, an engineering contractor from Passage in Co Cork, Gerard Murphy, an accountant from Midleton and his business partner, Irene Johnstone.

He told gardaí that he had been put in touch with some Bulgarians by financial consultant Catherine Nelson and had travelled to Sofia where he stayed for five days at the Crystal Palace Hotel and met three Bulgarians called Giorgio, Slavtko and Emil.

Asked whether he considered that an unusual way of doing business, Mr Cunningham replied: “No, not having dealt with people in Bulgaria”. The case continues.