The High Court has ruled that two houses in Limerick City linked to murdered criminal Kieran Keane were acquired with the proceeds of crime.
Keane was kidnapped and then murdered on January 29, 2003, by members of an opposing Limerick-based crime gang, the McCarthy-Dundons.
Kieran Keane was a leading member of the Keane organised criminal gang and was involved in violent crime including the murder of rival criminals and the sale and supply of illegal drugs. Five men were subsequently convicted and jailed for Keane’s murder.
In High Court proceedings following an ongoing investigation, CAB claimed that two houses located at St Munchin St and St Mary’s Park in Limerick were acquired by Keane and that his widow, Sophie, became the beneficial owner.
In a claim against Sophie Keane, with an address at Garryowen, Limerick CAB sought various orders under section 3 of the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act that the properties were acquired with the proceeds of crime.
Neither the late Kieran Keane nor his wife had a legitimate source of income that could have generated the cash to purchase the properties, claimed CAB.
The court heard Ms Keane voluntarily went to CAB and offered the properties up for seizure. CAB claimed this came about due to it pursuing her in relation to debts owed to Revenue following the registration of judgments against her and her assets.
The properties were acquired in 1996 and 2001 for approximately IR£51,000 in total but were not registered in the Keanes’ names.
The properties in question are three-bedroom terraced houses, with one adjoining a small commercial premises which formally operated as a takeaway restaurant. Both have been vacant for some time.
CAB claimed Keane, using monies obtained through his criminal activities, paid for them in cash and left the properties in the name of the vendor or registered in the name of persons who had no real interests of the properties.
CAB claimed one of the methods used by the Keane gang to launder the proceeds of their criminal activities was to make cash purchases of properties in parts of Limerick City designated for regeneration. This was done in order to hide the identity of their true ownership. In some cases, owners were intimidated or forced out of their homes, claimed CAB.
Ms Keane, in a statement to gardaí, confirmed that she did not know where her late husband would have found the money to purchase the properties.
The orders, which were not contested, were made by Ms Justice Carmel Stewart, who said she was satisfied from the evidence before the court that the properties were acquired with proceeds of crime. No other party made a claim in respect of the properties.