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Bunker was set up to print cash, court told

FOUR men have gone on trial at the Special Criminal Court accused of having sophisticated equipment for printing counterfeit currency in a hidden underground bunker in Co Laois.

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

They all pleaded not guilty to possession of equipment, including printers and cutting machines, to manufacture counterfeit currency at Ballybrophy, Borris-in-Ossory, on May 31, 2010.

The court heard that gardai who raided a yard at Ballybrophy found the four accused men in a Portakabin. Inside the Portakabin they discovered a trap door, hidden under a chest of drawers, which led to an underground bunker.

The bunker was made of two 40ft containers which had been buried.

The bunker had lino flooring, fluorescent lights and power was provided by a generator outside. Inside the bunker gardai discovered a number of printers and cutting machines and other materials used in printing.

There was a €500 note pinned to the wall of the bunker.

Tom O'Connell, prosecuting, said that Detective Inspector Michael Moore, of the Garda Technical Bureau, carried out a forensic examination of the material found in the bunker. He was accompanied by an expert from the Central Bank and an expert from Europol, specialising in forged money.

The court would also hear evidence from Reg Sherlock, who works for Canon, and who was able to download jobs previously done on two Canon printers found in the bunker. There were 90 images of €50 notes, an image of an American Express traveller's cheque for Swiss francs and images of Sterling bank notes.

There was also an image of a $100 note and an image of a €500 note.

"Detective Inspector Moore expresses the opinion that it was set up as a printshop to print counterfeit money," Mr O'Connell said.

He said that the court would hear evidence from Daniel Vincente, a Spanish police officer who specialises in forged money and is attached to Europol.

"It appears to him that the equipment was capable of printing good quality counterfeit notes in a large amount and in a short period of time," he added.

Mr O'Connell said that after their arrest the four accused men were interviewed by gardai. They denied knowledge of the bunker and told gardai they were attending a business meeting in the Portakabin to discuss carbon credits.

The four deny all charges and the trial continues.