Saturday 7 December 2019

'Rocket man' fails in bid to release €15k after mother pays car loan

Jonathan Harding
Jonathan Harding
Andrew Phelan

Andrew Phelan

A MAJOR criminal known as ‘Rocket Man’ has failed in a court bid to have €15,000 released from a frozen bank account so he can pay his mother back for settling his car loan.

Jonathan Harding (44), who gardai believe has been one of the main players in the deadly Kinahan cartel, tried to convince a judge that the Volkswagen Golf was a “reasonable living expense”.

Judge Anthony Halpin rejected his request, but did allow him access to a separate €3,690 from his bank account to pay a tax bill, as well as his accountant and lawyer.


Harding made the applications while in custody awaiting sentence at the Special Criminal Court for possession of a cache of firearms.

Harding, of McNeill Court, Sallins, Co Kildare, has admitted having 10 revolvers, four pistols, a sub-machine gun, an assault rifle and ammunition at Greenogue Business Park, Rathcoole, on January 24 last year.

He is due to be sentenced along with a co-accused this month. Dublin District Court heard Harding’s AIB bank account had been frozen in the sum of €48,500 on foot of an application by gardai.

The court was told funds could be unfrozen in order to pay for legal proceedings, carry on a business, or as reasonable living expenses.

A barrister for Harding said he was applying in two categories.

He said there was money for which the provenance could be clearly established, and that it was from reputable sources.

Harding’s mother, Elizabeth, had paid off an outstanding car loan of €15,196 on his behalf, his barrister said.

This was for a 2015-registered Volkswagen Golf. He also owed €2,356 to Revenue, €738 to his tax adviser and another sum in solicitor’s fees.

These expenses were “real, genuine and documented”, the barrister added.

Counsel produced a statement which showed Harding received a personal injuries award of €25,294 on March 7, 2016.


Judge Halpin said the provenance of any money did not concern him, but Harding’s barrister said it would be an “ill-fated application” if he was asking the court to release money “that could possibly have a dubious origin”.

The court heard Harding wanted to repay his mother for settling his car debt.

Harding’s mother cried as she took to the stand, and was reassured by the judge about the factual nature of the evidence she was required to give.

She said she received a pension settlement after she had been made redundant from her job in a trade union and used some of that to pay her son’s car loan after he asked her to do so.

She told Detective Garda Ian Pemberton the car would have been taken back if it had not been paid.

Det Gda Pemberton said payment of a car loan did not amount to a reasonable living expense and the judge agreed.

Judge Halpin noted that an unpaid Revenue bill would attract interest, having a tax adviser was a reasonable expense and the accused would have needed to pay a solicitor to make the application.

Harding is a close pal of cartel member Liam Byrne and has been heavily involved in organised crime for two decades.

He escaped charges after he was arrested when gardai seized two loaded rocket launchers in one of their first-ever operations against the cartel in May 2010.

In December 2004, Harding was jailed for six years after being caught with almost €800,000 of heroin and cannabis.

He is considered one of the capital’s most prominent gangland criminals.


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