Sunday 25 February 2018

Gardai found bunker in raid on alleged currency counterfeit operation

A NUMBER of items necessary to produce quality counterfeit banknotes were not present in a bunker hidden beneath a portakabin where four men accused of having equipment for printing counterfeit currency were arrested, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

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 men 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 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.

The court this morning continued hearing evidence from garda forensic document expert Detective Inspector Michael Moore, who said that he attended the scene at the underground bunker in Ballybrophy and later examined printing machines and paraphernalia found there.

Under cross-examination by counsel for Mr Flanagan, Mr Fergal Kavanagh SC, Det Insp Moore agreed that a number of items needed to produce counterfeit banknotes “reasonably capable of being genuine” were not found in the bunker.

He told the court that the absent items included plates and dies for a machine used to both impress images on to foil and to press foil on to paper, plates for a machine use to imitate watermarks on paper and the security paper necessary to produce “top quality” banknotes.

Det Insp Moore agreed that there were also no computers found in the bunker.

He agreed with counsel for Mr Sloan, Mr Paul Greene SC, that rolls of paper found in the bunker were not suitable for printing two sided documents such as currency but told the court the paper was suitable for printing one-sided security documents.

In re-examination by Mr Garnet Orange SC, for the prosecution, Det Insp Moore said he had made the distinction between currency and security documents as some valuable documents such as passports and identity cards were only printed on one side.

Det Insp Moore agreed with presiding judge Mr Justice Paul Butler that it was not suggested the machines found in the bunker were capable of producing “perfect” currency.

The trial continues on Tuesday in front of the non-jury court.

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