Criminal’s house hardly a steal at €1 million

IT wasn’t exactly a steal for the buyers but the auction of Martin Cahill’s former home didn’t represent daylight robbery by the sellers either.

At just under €1 million, the winning bid for the house once occupied by the criminal known as The General was accepted by all involved as an honest day's work.

The detached four-bed at 17 Cowper Downs in Rathmines, Dublin, which was seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau and sold on behalf of the State, attracted a modest level of buyer attention in the bidding room of Gunne Auctioneers in Ballsbridge yesterday.

Seating for 55 was laid on but a third of the chairs were empty and most of the rest were taken up with CAB officials, media and curious onlookers all trying to spot the few present with scorch marks on their pockets.

For the first few minutes of bidding it seemed there were just three parties in the race and it looked like the house would not fetch much above its disclosed reserve of €775,000.

Then things began to heat up and in sweating increments of a thousand euro a time, the bidding parties grew to six all but one men in suits and the price rose to €904,000.

While the rest of the room wiped their brows, one of the successful bidders slept soundly through the entire proceedings. All of a few months old, the infant was completely ignorant of the momentous purchase made by his or her parents.

And that's how the young couple decided to keep everyone else. They declined to talk and all that could be gauged about the new residents of No. 17 is that they were a striking couple in their thirties, he dark and handsome and she dark and pretty, who dressed casual almost to the point of boho only with expensive labels.

Gunnes were taking a leaf out of Cahill's famed handbook for suspects in garda custody and were saying absolutely nothing about the buyers. In fact, the only criminal act of the day was the disappointment dumped on the curious as the couple were swooped upon, slipped into a side room and disappeared.

The new owners have busy days ahead as the house was stripped back almost to a shell after gardaí moved in to search for stolen items, documents or any other evidence of use in their ongoing investigations into crimes in which the late General was a suspect.

Head of CAB, Detective Chief Superintendent Felix McKenna, who spent many a day dispatching gardaí to stake out the house when he was a member of Tango Squad assembled to bring Cahill's gang to book, said he didn't expect to be knocking on its door again any time soon.

"I'm satisfied we won't have to revisit this house as a result of the search and clean-up carried out over the six weeks," he said. He said he was "very happy" with the price achieved and had congratulated the buyers and wished them "many happy days" in their new home.

Legal fees and the cost of clearing out and cleaning up the house came to about €200,000 and will be deducted from the auction price.

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