Protection money for criminals given to council official in envelope, High Court told
Dublin City Council official gave €1,200 payments from contractor to criminal, Cab told
Evidence before the High Court set out how two council workers advised contractors to pay two men their demanded fees for “fence maintenance” in order that antisocial behaviour directed against the contractors’ sites would stop. Photograph: Aidan Crawley
The protection money for criminals paid by at least one construction firm to ensure a building site remained free from attack was first given to a Dublin City Council official at a petrol station, the High Court heard earlier this week.
The money was put in an envelope for the official, Eugene Toolis of Westside Engineering told Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) officers in an interview in February 2018.
The council official explained to Mr Toolis that “security costs” of €1,200 per week would need to be paid to two criminals in cash only and could be reclaimed from the council, the court heard.
The court was told three companies paid the two criminals a total of just over €553,000, according to the bank account records of the men who received the money.
The evidence explaining how some payments were made and claimed back from the council was set out at the High Court on Tuesday. At the centre of the case was cash, a mobile home in Co Wexford and a classic horse box, with a combined value of almost €300,000 that Cab was pursuing.
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart granted Cab orders freezing the assets, almost all of which was cash in bank accounts from which money was withdrawn for Derek “Dee Dee” O’Driscoll (46), Meagans Lane, Crooksling, Saggart, Co Dublin, and David Reilly (36), Croftgrove, Ballyfermot, Dublin.
Cab contended that while the men derived income from drug dealing, organised burglaries and tax offences, the most contentious evidence related to the extortion of building contractors working on Dublin City Council sites in the Cherry Orchard area of Ballyfermot.
The council released a statement on Wednesday evening saying it had never paid any money to the two men.
Evidence before the High Court set out how two council workers advised contractors to pay O’Driscoll and Reilly their demanded fee of €1,200 or €1,500 each per week for “fence maintenance” in order that antisocial behaviour directed against the contractors’ sites would stop.
The contractors were working on house-building projects for the council at the time and when fees were paid to O’Driscoll and Reilly, the violence – including arson attacks and stolen cars being rammed into the sites – ceased immediately.
A total of eight payments, amounting to €10,600, were paid by Mr Toolis, he told Cab.
He said a council official introduced him to Reilly.
He later billed Dublin City Council for €33,000 plus VAT. Some €13,000 plus VAT was for “fence repairs” and €20,000 plus VAT was for the payments to Reilly – €10,800 and an allowance for the income tax that would arise to earn that amount.
The High Court was told that when the first payment was made, Mr Toolis gave it to the council official in an envelope after meeting him at a petrol station. Before Mr Toolis could leave, the court was told, Reilly and another man got into the council official’s car and the cash was given to Reilly. The court was told that Mr Toolis gave the further payments to the council official for passing on to Reilly in an envelope and he never met Reilly again after the first meeting.
In another case, involving contractor Adston Construction on a site in the Cherry Orchard area, a representative of the company told Cab that a council official advised him to employ O’Driscoll and Reilly in a “fence maintenance” capacity as they would ensure antisocial behaviour would stop. The company agreed and paid €1,500 per week though it considered it protection money.
Michael McDonnell, a project manager with Co-Operative Housing Ireland which was also involved in a Cherry Orchard site being targeted with antisocial attacks, said he became aware a Dublin City Council site nearby had no such problems.
When he inquired at that site how they had achieved this, he told Cab a council official indicated it was because they were paying O’Driscoll and Reilly. Mr McDonnell said the official then gave him Reilly’s mobile number so he could contact him.