High Court dismisses legal aid applications for six allegedly linked to Kinahan gang

By Ann O'Loughlin

Applications brought by six people allegedly linked to the Kinahan crime organisation to have their legal costs covered by the State in proceedings against the Criminal Assets Bureau have been dismissed by the High Court.

CAB had previously secured court orders freezing assets it says are the proceeds of crime - including jewelry, motorbikes, property and cars - following raids conducted as part of its investigation into the Kinahan gang at various locations in March 2016.

Arising out of those seizures CAB has brought proceedings against 11 people, including Liam Byrne who the bureau says is a member of the Kinahan gang.

Byrne's brother David was shot dead in the Regency Hotel in February 2016.

In a pre-hearing motion, lawyers representing six of the 11 individuals applied to the High Court to have their costs of hiring lawyers to act for them in the action paid for under the legal aid scheme.

The applications, which were made on behalf of Kelly Quinn, Sean McGovern, Anita Freeman, James Byrne, Sadie Byrne, and Liam Roe who denied the assets are the proceeds of crime, were opposed by CAB.

Some of the assets seized by CAB in March 2016.

Today, Ms Justice Stewart dismissed all six applications for legal aid.

Giving the court's decision the Judge said she was refusing the applications on grounds including that no exceptional circumstances existed to allow the court grant any of the applicants legal aid.

The court said evidence tendered by CAB about the applicant's lifestyles, including that some of the parties had taken multiple flights to destinations including Spain, Dubai and Los Vegas or how other assets were acquired had not been addressed by the applicants in their submissions to the court.

In addition the applicants had not engaged with claims from CAB about access they may have had to funds in the past.

In all the circumstances the interests of justice did not require the court to admit any of the applicants to the legal aid scheme, the Judge said.

The Judge said she would furnish her full written decision at a later date. The Judge adjourned the proceedings against all 11 individuals to a date later this month.

None of the parties seeking legal aid were present in court for the ruling.

They had claimed they cannot afford to pay lawyers to represent them in what will be a lengthy and complex case.

Ms Quinn, an unemployed mother of two and the partner of the late David Byrne, claims a sum of almost €8,000 seized by the Gardaí following a search of her home at Kildare Road, Crumlin, are not the proceeds of crime and should be returned to her.

She says the money came from "a whip around" from friends following her partner's death.

Sadie Byrne, of Raleigh Square, Crumlin, who is the mother of the late David Byrne rejects CAB's claim an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch that belonged to her late son worth an estimated €12,500 and a Lexus Jeep are the proceeds of crime.

Both items were seized by CAB.

Her husband James Byrne, also of Raleigh Square, Crumlin, seeks the return of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch worth €35,000 seized by the Gardaí from his home.

Liam Roe of Mangerton Road, Drimnagh is seeking the return of an Audi A5 car and a Kawasaki motorbike worth a total of €38,000 seized by CAB.

Mr Roe denies that he is a member of any organised crime gang and says he is not in receipt of any income or any social welfare, has no assets other than ones that were seized, and receives funding from his father.

Sean McGovern sought legal aid to contest CAB's claims that his residence at Kildare Road, Crumlin, is the proceeds of crime. His partner Anita Freeman claims a BMW car, worth €23,000 seized by CAB is not the proceeds of crime.

Mr McGovern says he has no other assets aside from the property, and the couple and their two young children are living off benefits from the State plus a redundancy payment his partner received in 2016.

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