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Detective inspector tells court of raid on illegal currency printing works

AN illegal print shop for the production of counterfeit currency was hidden beneath a portakabin where four men four men accused of having equipment for printing counterfeit banknotes were arrested, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Detective Inspector Michael Moore was giving evidence at the trial of four men who have all pleaded not guilty to possession of equipment, including printers and cutting machines, to manufacture counterfeit currency at Ballybrophy, Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois on May 31st, 2010.

The four are: Anthony Sloan (57), a native of Belfast with an address at Ard na Mara, Dundalk, Co Louth, Liam Delaney (41), with addresses at Mountrath and Borris-in-Ossory, Co Laois, Kevin Flanagan (42), of Borris-in-Ossory and Andrew Poole (43), of Portlaoise, Co Laois.

The court heard that gardai who raided a yard near Ballybrophy found the four accused men in a portakabin. Inside the portkabin gardai discovered a trap door, hidden under a chest of drawers, which led to an underground bunker constructed from two forty foot containers.

Within this bunker gardai discovered a number of printers, cutting machines and other materials used in printing.

Det Insp Moore told Mr Garnet Orange BL, prosecuting, that he was a forensic document expert and handwriting examiner with the Garda Technical Bureau and that he had trained with US Secret Service and the London Metropolitan Police.

With regard to counterfeit currency, he said he had trained in Washington and with the European Central Bank.

Det Insp Moore said he attended the underground bunker in Ballybrophy and later examined printing machines and paraphernalia found there, including two large format printers, a laser engraver, two cutting machines, a Multilith offset printer, a foil laminating machine, ink cartridges and paper samples.

He said he noted that there were two workbenches in the bunker which contained instruction manuals for the operation of the equipment, chemicals for a water-marking system on one of the printers and implements like wrenches and lathes.

Det Insp Moore told Mr Orange that, based on his observations, “nearly everything required” for the creation of counterfeit documents of value was found in the bunker.

He said that the equipment was capable of producing counterfeit currency notes to a reasonable standard and was capable of producing other documents of value, including bank drafts and travellers cheques.

Det Insp Moore told the court that the bunker was set up as “an illegal print shop to print currencies and other counterfeit documents of value.”

He said he observed images retrieved from the two printers by a Canon engineer and went on to form the opinion that they were images of €50 banknotes, €500 banknotes, US dollar bills, sterling notes and travellers cheques.

The trial continues tomorrow..