Northern Bank trial hears Garda evidence

 

Gardaí today told how they were stunned into silence when a financial advisor broke open a cupboard in the basement of his house to reveal over £2 million sterling packed so tightly into holdall bags that they couldn’t be zipped closed.

Both Insp Declan O’Sullivan and Sgt Sean McCarthy told how Ted Cunningham brought them to a basement at his home at Farran in Co Cork in the early hours of February 17th 2005 after they called to the house to search it under warrant.

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

When he asked Mr Cunningham what sort of personal items were in the locker, Mr Cunningham replied that it contained money and when he asked how much money was in the cupboard, Mr Cunningham replied: “A couple of million sterling”, said Insp O’Sullivan.

“I asked him to open the lock. 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 hold-all 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 that he asked why Mr Cunningham he thought that they would think it was from the Northern Bank raid and Mr Cunnigham said because as soon as he saw reports of the raid on the raid on the television, he realised he had sterling in the basement.

Sgt McCarthy corroborated Insp O’Sullivan’s evidence regarding the discovery of the money in the basement with Mr Cunningham who had returned home at around 4am after his partner, Cathy Armstrong rang him to tell him that gardaí were searching the  house.

“When we opened the cupboard, there was a stunned silence for a moment or two - 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,” said Sgt McCarthy.

Insp O’Sullivan told how 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 stg and when he asked where he had got, Mr Cunningham 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 and he went on to explain how he had got the money after receiving a call in September or October.

“I got a call last September/October from a man to meet me in the churchyard across the road. 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,” said Mr Cunningham before signing the memo of interview.

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