Man 'knew well' about money

 

TED CUNNINGHAM knew the moment that he had opened four holdall bags containing cash he had received from a man in the car park of a Co Offaly hotel that the money was from the Northern Bank robbery, it was claimed yesterday.

Det Chief Supt Tony Quilter told Cork Circuit Criminal Court that Mr Cunningham told gardaí in an off-camera interview that he suspected the money was not legitimate but, when he saw Northern Ireland sterling in the bags, he knew it was from the Northern Bank raid.

Mr Cunningham told gardaí that he been put in contact with a freelance consultant, Catherine Nelson, by Phil Flynn some eight months earlier and that she was the contact throughout the money-laundering operation, said Det Chief Supt Quilter.

Mr Cunningham told gardaí that after he collected four bags of cash at the Clonmore Hotel and brought them back to his home in Farran, he rang Ms Nelson to tell her he got the money and he used a code “the postman came”, said Det Chief Supt Quilter.

Mr Cunningham told gardaí Ms Nelson had put him in touch with some Bulgarians who were interested in buying a sand and gravel pit at Shinrone in Co Offaly which he part-owned and all financial transactions were to be disguised as relating to the pit, he told the court.

Det Chief Supt Quilter said Mr Cunningham told them: “When I opened the first bag and saw the Ulster Bank notes, I knew well. I rang Catherine and told her I needed to meet her and she said ‘the boys will sort it out’ – not to panic.” Mr Cunningham went on to tell gardaí Ms Nelson told him: “You are selling a pit – it all has to do with selling the pit, don’t worry.” He “knew damn well what it [the money] was”, said Det Chief Supt Quilter.

Mr Cunningham told gardaí the Bulgarian plan to buy the sand pit was true but the deal was never done. “I came up with the idea to pretend I had a buyer for the pit. In effect I was laundering the money from the Northern Bank job by buying the pit and putting it in a bogey Bulgarian company name.”

Det Chief Supt Quilter rejected a suggestion by Mr Cunningham’s counsel, Ciarán O’Loughlin SC, that gardaí had coerced Mr Cunningham into the statement by saying they would leak to the press that he had named IRA figures and that he would end up with a bullet in the head.