Taxi driver given a suspended sentence for money launderingGary Ibbotson 20 Dec 2022
By Sonya McLean
A taxi driver who was caught transporting over €80,000 in cash believed to be the proceeds of crime has been given an 18-month suspended sentence for money laundering.
Bernard Fagan (57) of Newbury Lawns, Clonshaugh, Dublin 17, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to being in possession of €83,750, the proceeds of crime, on the M1 motorway in Swords on December 9, 2021. He has a few minor previous convictions that date back to 1990.
Judge Dara Hayes said the crime was “at the lower range for this type of offending” and warranted a headline sentence of two and half years.
However, he took into account Fagan’s lack of relevant convictions, his lack of garda attention and remorse before he imposed a term of 18 months.
Judge Hayes said the court could accept that the crime was “a temporary suspension of any good judgement and was out of character” for Fagan, and as such, a custodial sentence was not necessary “at this time”.
He suspended the sentence in full and warned Fagan that he came very close to going to jail.
“You have been given an opportunity, and you should take it,” Judge Hayes said.
An investigating garda told Pieter Le Vert BL, prosecuting, that an operation was put in place after gardaí were informed that a substantial amount of cash was going to be moved.
Fagan’s vehicle was stopped, and the cash was discovered in a blue plastic bag in the front passenger footwell of the vehicle.
He was arrested and gave gardaí no difficulty, Mr Le Vert told the court.
Dean Kelly, SC defending, said his client had been a taxi driver for 16 years and had just purchased a new vehicle when the pandemic hit.
He had paid for the new taxi and the insurance for it through a €16,000 credit union loan and found himself in financial difficulty because of the inability to work during Covid.
Counsel said that Fagan was “presented with an opportunity” in his local pub and “put in touch with someone else”. He had been promised €200 to transport the cash.
It was accepted that Fagan was on “the lowest or lower rung of the ladder”, was not on the garda radar and had “no trappings of suggestion of wealth”.
Mr Kelly said his client is “a decent and hardworking man” who enjoys the support of his family, who were in court with him.