Cunningham 'may fight to get seized £2.4m back'
MONEY-lender Ted Cunningham, who had his conviction for laundering £2.4m (€2.9m) from the Northern Bank raid quashed, may now take legal action to retrieve the money.
Mr Cunningham walked free from jail yesterday, three years after he became the only man to be convicted in connection with the robbery when he was found guilty of laundering almost €3m.
He will now face retrial on nine of the 10 counts against him, Dublin's Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) ruled.
However, he will not be retried on the 10th count, which referred to the £2.4m allegedly found in a cupboard of his home on February 17, 2005.
The other nine charges relate to smaller sums of money allegedly transferred by Mr Cunningham to other people.
The 63-year-old from Farran, Co Cork, was jailed for 10 years in April 2009.
He had pleaded not guilty at Cork Circuit Criminal Court to 10 charges of money-laundering.
The former financier appealed his conviction on grounds that evidence gathered and used against him following a search of his home by the gardai was obtained on foot of a defective warrant.
The warrant, which led to gardai finding £2.4m in the basement of his home in Cork, has been ruled defective.
It was issued by the investigating superintendent under S29.1 of the Offences Against the State Act, which was recently struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional, on the basis that warrants must be issued by superintendents who are independent to the case at hand.
The CCA agreed that in Mr Cunningham's case a warrant obtained by the gardai to search Mr Cunningham's home in February 2005 as part of investigations into the robbery was not valid.
This was because the warrant was issued by the garda superintendent in charge of the investigation.
Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman said the CCA was satisfied to quash Mr Cunningham's convictions and ordered a retrial on nine of the 10 counts of alleged money laundering.
The DPP accused Mr Cunningham's lawyers of "piggy-backing" on this relatively new case but the court ruled the legal point was raised before his appeal was determined.
Mr Cunningham was described yesterday as being "very happy" with the Supreme Court decision after being released on bail. It is understood he may now take a legal action in a bid to get the money back.
Speaking after the hearing, a friend of Mr Cunningham's, Al Connolly, said the financier was "very happy" with the decision.
"He is very happy. It has been a long time coming," said Mr Connolly.
A number of other trials have collapsed since the ruling on the controversial warrants.
Yesterday, Justice Minister Alan Shatter said new legislation would be introduced before the summer recess that would increase the availability of judges and independent gardai who could issue warrants.