Palatial Kerry home seized from man under investigation for preying on vulnerable

Cab targets gang operating in Ireland, UK and Europe with bogus construction

The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) has taken possession of a palatial house from a Co Kerry man who has been under investigation for his role in a deception-based gang operating in Ireland, the UK and continental Europe.

Patrick Coffey (36) and a number of his associates have amassed considerable wealth by preying on people, many of them elderly, in carrying out minor home improvements for them, including guttering and small-scale construction works such as extensions.

They have charged their victims, many of whom were vulnerable or who they intimidated, exorbitant fees for often minor works. They also took money from people up front, sometimes very significant sums, with the promised work never carried out.

Garda sources said the gang had been active for years in Ireland and the UK, adding they had also come to the attention of European police forces.


Operation Tarmac

After a High Court ruling in favour of Cab this week, against Mr Coffey, its officers travelled to his home at Upper Ballycasheen, Killarney, Co Kerry, on Thursday and took the keys of the house. The palatial detached home was now being secured and had been taken for the State along with a number of other lower value assets owned by Mr Coffey.

The bureau about five years ago established Operation Tarmac after a group of people suspected of involvement in deception-based organised crime began displaying signs of very significant wealth, which gardaí believed could not be explained by legitimate income. An assets profiler within the Garda in the Kerry division compiled a dossier on the lifestyle of a number of men believed to be operating from the county as an international crime group.

BMWs and Rolexes

Once the dossier was analysed by Cab's officers in Dublin, Operation Tarmac commenced and resulted in a significant search-and-seizure operation almost four years ago. At that time, 11 properties were searched and gardaí confiscated nine vehicles: five BMWs, an Audi, a Mercedes and two VW Passats.

They also confiscated 12 high-value watches: 10 Rolexes, a Cartier and a Dolce & Gabbana. Four bank or credit union accounts, with a total of €177,000 deposited, were also discovered during the Cab investigation and frozen while a large sum of cash – €127,000 and £7,000 – was also confiscated.

Aside from his home, Mr Coffey has also lost other items to Cab including a Rolex watch, a Luis Vuitton bag and a BMW vehicle. The other assets were owned by other men who remain under investigation. Some of the suspects also face making cash settlements with the authorities as well as the loss of assets to Cab under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Conor Lally

Conor Lally

Conor Lally is Security and Crime Editor of The Irish Times