Gardaí 'stunned' by £2.3m in holdalls


GARDAÍ HAVE said they were stunned into silence when a financial adviser broke open a cupboard in the basement of his house to reveal over £2 million packed so tightly into holdall bags that they could not be zipped closed.

Insp Declan O’Sullivan and Sgt Seán McCarthy said that Ted Cunningham took them to a basement at his home at Farran in Co Cork in the early hours of February 17th, 2005, after they had called to the house to search it under warrant.

They were giving evidence yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court in the trial of Mr Cunningham and his son, Timothy.

Ted Cunningham (60), Woodbine Lodge, Farran, Co Cork, denies 20 charges of money-laundering, while Timothy Cunningham (33), Church View, Farran, denies four charges of money laundering, between December 20th, 2004, and February 16th, 2005.

Insp O’Sullivan told the jury of seven men and five women that as Mr Cunningham accompanied him down to the basement, he asked him what was in the cupboard. Mr Cunningham told him there were personal items.

When he asked Mr Cunningham what sort of personal items, he replied that the cupboard contained money. When he asked how much, Mr Cunningham replied: “A couple of million sterling.”

“I asked him to open the lock,” said Insp O’Sullivan. “He could not remember the combination at that stage. He suggested he would break open the door. It was only a chipboard cupboard.

“I could see immediately five or six holdall bags of various colours and a Dunnes Stores bag.

“I could see they were bulging with Northern Ireland sterling. There was a moment of shocked silence from everyone in the room, we were all kind of looking at each other and then Mr Cunningham said, ‘That money is not from the Northern Bank robbery’.”

Insp O’Sullivan said he asked Mr Cunningham why he thought they would think the money was from the Northern Bank raid.

Mr Cunningham told him it was because as soon as he saw reports of the raid on the television, he realised he had sterling in the basement.

Sgt McCarthy said Mr Cunningham had returned home at about 4am after his partner, Cathy Armstrong, phoned him to tell him gardaí were searching the house.

“When we opened the cupboard, there was a stunned silence for a moment or two,” Sgt McCarthy said. “We were all just stunned to see so much cash in the one place. What broke the silence was when Mr Cunningham said the money wasn’t from the Northern Bank raid.”

Insp O’Sullivan said he cautioned Mr Cunningham before he asked him if he owned the money and Mr Cunningham replied: “It is in my possession at the moment. When the sale of the sand-pit goes through, it will be mine.”

Mr Cunningham told him that it amounted to £2.3 million and when asked where he had got it, he said: “I got it from clients I was dealing with in Bulgaria . . . I would rather not name them, I need to contact them.”

Mr Cunningham told him that he had planned to lodge the money in a bank and declare it to the Revenue Commissioners within the next few weeks. He went on to explain how he had got the money after receiving a call the previous year.

“I got a call last September/October from a man to meet me in the churchyard across the road,” Mr Cunningham told the gardaí.

“I never saw him before I took them [bags of money] out of his four-wheel drive jeep and took them down to the cupboard.”.

The trial continues.