Limerick man caught laundering €1.5m gets four years

John Duffy said he thought the value of the cash was only around €50,000

A 55-year-old man found laundering €1.5 million worth of cash in bogland in Co Limerick has received a four-year prison sentence, with the final year suspended.

John Duffy, of Shanabooley Road, Ballynanty, Limerick, was discovered by gardaí inside a large metal container sorting and drying out the cash in a tumbler drier when they searched a farm yard in Co Limerick on December 14th, 2013.

The largest seizure of cash in the history of the state was discovered at Portcrusha, Montpellier, Co Limerick, following a five-month operation, targeting organised crime.

Following his arrest, Duffy told gardaí he believed the cash was the proceeds of illegal cigarettes and claimed he was in fear of his life and was working under duress when he agreed to bury the money.


The married father, who was jailed for six years in 2000 on a drugs charge, said he received four deliveries of cash in large bags and was told it was his job to break it down into smaller amounts for use.

He claimed he never realised how much cash was involved and believed it be in the region of €50,000.

Defence Counsel Anthony Sammon said his clients actions were that "of a desperate man".

Gardai accepted the 55-year-old was being coerced by a criminal gang who were described in court as “persons of a particular vicious nature”.

Duffy pleaded guilty at Limerick Circuit Court to possession of €1,494,430 at Portcrusha, between Castleconnell and Montpelier, in Co Limerick on December 14th, 2013, knowing it was the proceeds of crime.

In his evidence, Detective Garda David Boland, an expert in the area of criminal assets and their recovery, said the wine-coloured metal container was located adjacent to a farm house in Montpellier, Co Limerick.

A person identified in court as Mr X was operating a digger at a recently excavated patch of land.

Duffy was discovered inside the metal container, surrounded by a number of zip bags containing large amounts of cash. A large amount of cash was also being dried inside a tumbler drier when gardaí entered the container.

A vacuum sealer which was being used to wrap the cash was also found, along with a green metal ammunition box containing a considerable amount of cash.

Other quantities of cash were found sealed in AIB lodgement bags found in a nap sack. Latex gloves and cardboard boxes were also seized in the search.

Imposing sentence at Limerick Circuit Court on Friday, Judge Tom O’Donnell noted that gardaí accepted Duffy was acting under duress and that he had served a long sentence for possession of drugs imposed in 2000.

“Even though the legal process was finished, often in the criminal world the person who loses the drugs is often burdened with the debt or the loss (of the drugs),” said Judge O’Donnell who accepted this was a genuine concern for the accused.

Gardai accepted Duffy had tried to conduct a number of legitimate businesses, including a chauffeur and taxi service, but he was forced to turn to the wrong people to get himself out of trouble.

Judge O’Donnell imposed a four-year jail sentence, but suspended the final 12 months, adding that people who knowingly involve themselves with the proceeds of crime must be prepared to accept the consequences.

The judge noted the cash is safely “under lock and key in the National Mint” and he ordered that the money be forfeited to the State.

Defence Counsel Anthony Sammon quipped this would be welcome news for the Minister for Finance “at this fiscal state of the year”.