Northern Bank robbery cash launderer to be sentenced

A Cork financial adviser who laundered cash from the notorious Northern Bank robbery will be sentenced today.

Ted Cunningham and his son Timothy face 14 years in jail for handling more than £3m (€3.34m) in stolen bank notes in the two months after the audacious 2004 heist, which has been blamed on the IRA.

The 60-year-old was found guilty by a jury of 10 counts linked to a dirty money racket which moved cash from Belfast to Cork.

His 33-year-old son pleaded guilty to one charge in the early days of their 10-week trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

The main charge is that they had in their possession £3,010,380 (€3.34m) at Farran between December 20, 2004 and February 16, 2005, knowing or believing it to be the proceeds of a robbery at the Northern Bank Cash Centre in Belfast.

Cunningham, from Farran, Co Cork, maintained £2.3m (€2.56m) discovered in a locked cupboard in the basement of his home on February 16, 2005 came from the cash sale of a gravel pit in Co Offaly to Bulgarian businessmen.

But gardaí claimed that under interrogation, the money lender said the find was part of £4.9m (€5.46m) he was given from an unidentified male in a northern-registered car who he met on four separate occasions.

He had disposed of £1.5m (€1.67m) "in panic", they said, with the remaining £1.01m (€1.12m) split between friends and clients he owed money to.

Cunningham's firm Chesterton Finance - part-owned by one of the Irish government's former top aides Phil Flynn - was also raided as the hot money trail grew wider in the weeks after the notorious theft.

Of the 155,000 banknotes recovered from his home, 15,000 were examined, with more than 400 identified by stamps and handwriting as having passed through the Northern Bank cash centre.

The £26.5m (€29.5m) had been stolen in the bank robbery by a gang who kidnapped assistant manager Kevin McMullan and his wife Kyran, taking her to an undisclosed location while he was forced to steal the money.

The court heard claims that Mr Flynn, an industrial relations trouble-shooter, was his alleged boss in the money operation but no charges have been brought against him.

A consultant, Catherine Nelson, was named as the person who allegedly tried to calm him when he panicked over the cash and told him the "boys will sort it out".

The jury also found Cunningham guilty of financing three cars with cash from the raid, which were used by former Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hanlon, Phil Flynn's sister Catherine Clifford, and Ms Nelson - named in court as Mr Flynn's associate.

Earlier this month, Cunningham was also hit with a mammoth tax bill. The Criminal Assets Bureau is seeking payment of some €880,919.34 in outstanding tax liabilities.

A total of 77 witnesses, including key investigators, Northern Bank staff, and Cunningham gave evidence during the 10-week trial, which has cost the State up to €1m.

Each day the £2.3m (€2.56m) recovered from Cunningham's home was wheeled into the courthouse under heavy security in steel and aluminium cases.

Audio courtesy of Cork's RedFM.

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