A Dutch criminal caught with a fake identity card in a luxury Dublin apartment during a Garda operation targeting the Kinahan gang has been given a one-month jail sentence writes Tom Tuite.
Naoufal Fassih (35), who is of Moroccan origin, pleaded guilty to having a false instrument – a forged Belgian ID card – and possessing cannabis worth €40 when he was found in an apartment on Lower Baggott St on April 7 last.
He had already spent two and half months in custody on remand prior to his sentence hearing at Cloverhill District Court on Thursday.
Fassih, once described in court as a “man of means”, was wearing €800 runners and allegedly had three designer watches worth more than €80,000 when arrested. He has 12 prior criminal convictions for serious offences in the Netherlands dating back to 1998.
Garda Eoin Kane, of Kevin Street station's Drugs Unit, told Judge John Lindsay that courts in Amsterdam had previously given Fassih jail terms. In 2014, he was sentenced to 20 months, in 2002 he got a three and a half year sentence and in 2000 a two year prison term.
His earlier crimes included: two counts of unauthorised use of weapons, ammunition and explosives as well as extortion and attempted extortion and embezzlement, assault, openly joining forces to commit violence against other people and drugs offences.
However he had no prior convictions in Ireland. Fassih is also awaiting extradition to the Netherlands on other charges.
Gda Kane told the court that a warrant was obtained under the Misuse of Drugs Act to search the apartment. Fassih told gardai his name was Omar Ghazouani and he had Belgian ID card with that name and it had his photo.
Gardai also discovered a passport in another name and cannabis in the form of herb, resin and oil worth €40. He continued to maintain his name was Omar Ghazouani when he was detained for questioning at Kevin Street Garda station and during a subsequent court hearing when he was applying for bail.
However, gardai established his real identify through the assistance of Interpol and Fassih was refused bail on April 15.
Gda Kane agreed with defence counsel John Byrne (instructed by solicitor Barry O'Donoghue) that the search was a result of receiving confidential information which did not relate to Fassih. He also agreed with counsel that they did not expect to find him there.
Mr Byrne said his client's explanation for being in Ireland was that he was here for a girlfriend.
Mr Byrne said the name on the ID card and the passport did not match up and the offence was amateurish.
Judge Lindsay said “all crimes are amateurish, when they're caught”.
Fassih sat silently throughout the hearing. His counsel said he would be resisting attempts to extradite him to the Netherlands where he faces charges for “three relatively minor offences”.
He left school at 18 and worked in construction and his last sentence in 2013, which was a four-month prison term, was relatively modest, counsel said.
The maximum sentence for the forged document charge was 12 months, the court heard.
Judge Lindsay noted he has been in custody on remand since mid-April and he imposed a one-month jail term for that offence. He gave the accused the benefit of the Probation Act for the drugs charge.
Fassih was initially refused bail on April 15 by Judge Cormac Dunne at Dublin District Court after the prosecution successfully argued that he was a fight risk. Gardai had said in evidence that he had €800 runners and three designer watches in total worth €83,000 when arrested at the apartment on Lower Baggott Street.
Garda Kane had also said that the man was arrested during an operation targeting members of the Kinahan organised crime gang.
Gda Kane also said that during the search of the apartment also found there were: €300, Stg £12,825, a Rolex watch worth €8,350, another Rolex watch valued at €35,000 and an Audamars Piguet Royal Oak limited edition Michael Schumacher watch valued €40,000.
Mr Fassih also failed in a High Court action to get released on bail.