Tuesday 26 March 2019

'Crown jewel' Byrne fortress with €740k improvements including games room, bars and state-of-the-art security seized by CAB

  • Gang boss had spent €740k putting Jacuzzis and chandeliers in home

  • Property in heart of Kinahan territory will be sold to highest bidder

Gardai and CAB officers outside the confiscated Crumlin home of gangster Liam Byrne in 2016.
Gardai and CAB officers outside the confiscated Crumlin home of gangster Liam Byrne in 2016.
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

THE Criminal Assets Bureau has secured the “crown jewel” of senior Kinahan associate Liam Byrne’s property empire after confiscating his Dublin home – which he had lavished €740,000 on to pay for luxury improvements.

The Crumlin house was registered to his sister Maria, but Liam Byrne had been paying rent and splashing out on high-end refurbishments.

Byrne lived at the property at 2 Raleigh Square, which was the main focus of the garda investigation into his gang which spanned over three years.

It had been bought legitimately for €250,000 by his sister, but was refurbished for three times that amount with games rooms, bars, Jacuzzis and a state-of-the-art security system. Chandeliers had also been dotted around the property.

Sister of victim: Maria Byrne has forfeited her Dublin home to the Criminal Assets Bureau and had €26,760 in a deposit account seized
Sister of victim: Maria Byrne has forfeited her Dublin home to the Criminal Assets Bureau and had €26,760 in a deposit account seized

When it was raided in March 2016, heavily armed members of the Emergency Response Unit (ERU) had to use specialist equipment to cut through reinforced doors.

The seizure was expected to be contested by Maria Byrne – whose other brother David was shot dead in the Regency Hotel attack – with five days set aside next week for a hearing.

But yesterday the High Court ordered that the home be confiscated from Ms Byrne along with almost €27,000 in a bank account after she consented to forfeit it.

Justice Carmel Stewart put a four-month stay on the order, giving the Byrnes until the end of June to leave the property.

It comes after Independent.ie revealed last week that two homes owned by Liam Byrne and Sean McGovern had had receivers appointed to them.

The properties, in Clondalkin and Crumlin, were ruled to be the proceeds of crime and both respondents have been given until March 11 to leave.

The confiscation of the Raleigh Square house yesterday was the final blow by the CAB against the Byrne organised crime gang with a total of 47 assets confiscated under proceeds of crime legislation.

Only one asset – the Crumlin home of David Byrne’s partner, Kelly Quinn – has not been confiscated by the CAB.

Bloody: David Byrne was shot dead in the Regency attack
Bloody: David Byrne was shot dead in the Regency attack

Senior sources said this was not done “out of sympathy”, but the case presented by the State could not prove that this property was bought with the proceeds of crime.

Liam Byrne was paying rent for the confiscated Raleigh Square property through an account of LS Active Car Sales, a business used as a slush fund for the gang and to launder its ill-gotten gains.

An account containing €26,760 was also seized and a further €10,000 was to be forfeited to pay solicitors’ fees.

Maria Byrne had initially claimed that the renovation work totalled €433,000 and was paid for through legitimate means.

However, no explanation was given for the source of this money, and the CAB was satisfied it was renovated for €740,000 from the proceeds of crime.

Ms Justice Stewart told the court that she was satisfied with the agreement reached and made the order on the consent agreement.

The house will be handed over to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and sold to the highest bidder.

David Byrne's girlfriend Kelly Quinn (right) arriving at court with his mother Sadie Byrne (centre)
David Byrne's girlfriend Kelly Quinn (right) arriving at court with his mother Sadie Byrne (centre)

Sources said the property would be valued at far less than the €1m that it cost to buy and refurbish, and also raised concerns about it being sold to a private buyer.

“It will be difficult to see who will buy a property which was being used by the head of an organised crime group and is in the heart of Kinahan cartel territory,” one source told Independent.ie.

“It may end up that the council buy the property and use it, but that remains to be seen.”

In total, close to €2m of assets have been seized from the crime gang under Operation Lamp.

That includes three properties, 25 high-end and luxury cars, three electric bikes, a dune buggy, four Rolex and Breitling watches, two platinum and gold diamond rings and over €50,000 in cash.

The assets in question belong to Liam’s best pal Sean McGovern, his criminal cousin Liam Roe, McGovern’s partner Anita Freeman, David Byrne’s girlfriend Kelly Quinn and Liam’s parent’s Sadie and James ‘Jaws’ Byrne.

Liam Byrne
Liam Byrne

The lengthy CAB investigation uncovered how the gang went to extreme lengths to disguise its proceeds of crime.

On one occasion, Liam Byrne and another senior lieutenant were driving around Dublin wearing bulletproof vests.

They were stopped in a BMW 430 car, valued at €45,000, and still registered to a UK company.

It emerged that a system of “sale or return” was being exploited to obscure the beneficial ownership of the vehicles and to avoid an inquiry into how the person in possession of one of them was in a position to buy the vehicle when it had not actually been bought at all.

The inquiry into the crime gang, known as Operation Lamp, found that the mob “originated in Dublin but now has interests in Spain, the Netherlands, South America and Dubai”.

The court heard that the gang was previously led and directed by Christopher Kinahan Snr, but that the day-to-day operations were now managed by his sons, Christopher Jr and Daniel Kinahan.

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