Saturday 16 November 2019

Aer Lingus worker sent to trial in connection with alleged immigrant smuggling at Dublin Airport

Frederick Cham
Frederick Cham
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

AN Aer Lingus worker arrested in connection with an alleged immigrant-smuggling operation at Dublin Airport has been sent for trial.

Frederick Cham (61) had a book of evidence served on him when he appeared in Cloverhill District Court today.

Judge Victor Blake returned him for trial to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court on two charges of organising or facilitating the entry of non-Irish nationals into the State on January 9 and January 22 last.

Mr Cham also had five new related counts of trafficking people into the country brought against him today.

Those new charges were adjourned to another date for the preparation of a book of evidence. Judge Blake refused a prosecution application to keep all cases together by further adjourning the original charges following objections by Mr Cham’s defence.

Mr Cham, of Railway Cottages, Hazelhatch, Celbridge, Co. Kildare but originally from Hong Kong was arrested as part of an investigation by the Garda National Immigration Bureau.

He appeared in court in custody having been refused bail in January. No fresh bail application has been made.

Detective Garda Lorcan Tighe told Judge Blake Mr Cham made no reply to the five new charges when they were put to him before the court. They related to alegations of organising or facilitating the entry of five people into the state on December 12 last year and January 1 and 5 this year.

Defence solicitor Fiona McNulty objected to the existing charges being adjourned for service of the book of evidence, saying the accused had been in custody since January. A previous adjournment had been made peremptory against the State - meaning the prosecution had to have the book ready today.

State Solicitor Una Duggan said separating the charges could cause “confusion” and asked for all charges to remain together.

Ms McNulty said the accused had been in custody for six months and was “extremely anxious to meet the charges.”

Ms Duggan said the accused was fully aware of the investigation which gave rise to the new charges and it was in the interests of justice to have all counts in the one book of evidence.

Ms McNulty said the public interest was not served by the State “taking advantage of the court’s patience.”

Judge Blake said he did not mark cases peremptory against the State “lightly” and sent the defendant forward for trial on the existing two charges, to appear in the circuit court on Friday.

When he gave Mr Cham the formal alibi caution, the defendant nodded and Judge Blake said: “You are nodding your head, can I have a word please?”

“Yes,” Mr Cham replied, to which the judge said: “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Mr Cham said.

He was remanded in custody on the new charges, to appear in the district court again next month.

The court heard gardai continued to object to legal aid being granted to the defendant. Referring to written prosecution and defence submissions, the judge asked for further information and deferred a decision.

He said gardai were alleging that a sum of money was received by the defendant and another man from Western Union transfers between October 27, 2014 and January 13 this year.

The judge asked for more information on this, as well as a number of bank accounts in Ireland, the UK and China. The judge also sought valuations on two cars - a “high-spec, powerful” Alfa Romeo and a vintage Mini Cooper.

Co-defendant, Peter Kernan (56) of the Old Rectory Lodge, Celbridge, Co. Kildare was granted bail in March and is due back in court in September to be served with a book of evidence and returned for trial.

He is also accused of facilitating the entry of non-nationals into the State on January 9 and January 22 last. He is further charged with, between January 17 and 23 last at a premises in Celbridge, Co. Kildare, having proceeds from criminal conduct: €10,000, £790 Stg and US $284.

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