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court date Dublin socialite accused of conspiring to launder proceeds of international drug trafficking sent for trial

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Fran Fennell

Fran Fennell

Fran Fennell

A DUBLIN socialite accused of conspiring to launder the proceeds of international drug trafficking has been sent for trial.

Francis Fennell (31) is alleged to have been involved in a conspiracy to import cocaine into Australia and New Zealand and send the proceeds back to Ireland.

He had a book of evidence served on him at Dublin District Court today. Judge Bryan Smyth sent him forward to Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

The accused, of Balcurris Gardens in Ballymun is charged with conspiring with others to bring the proceeds of criminal conduct into the state, between May 22, 2012 and June 1, 2016.

It is alleged couriers were used to smuggle high-purity cocaine on flights, with the proceeds either strapped to them when they returned, or sent by money transfer to Ireland.

Gardai have alleged Mr Fennell was the “controlling force” behind the operation.

State solicitor Clare Barry said the DPP was consenting to the accused being returned for trial to the next sittings of the circuit court.

The book of evidence was served on him by a garda sergeant.

Judge Smyth told Mr Fennell he had 14 days to adduce any alibi evidence and asked if he understood this, he replied: “I do."

The judge ordered the prosecution to furnish the defence with copies of the accused’s garda interview video.

Mr Fennell was sent forward on existing bail, but a requirement to sign on twice daily at Ballymun garda station was reduced to once, at the request of defence solicitor Andrew Broderick.

Asked if his name was signed on the bail bond, Mr Fennell told the judge: “It is indeed.”

A man who is acting as surety for bail in the sum of €20,000 confirmed to the court that he understood he would lose the money if Mr Fennell does not comply with bail conditions.

The accused was sent forward to the circuit court on a date in February 2021.

Previously, Detective Sergeant Ronan McMorrow of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau said it was alleged Mr Fennell was involved in “every facet” of the alleged conspiracy. A New Zealand bank account had been frozen with $72,000 left after an attempt to launder €500,000 into Ireland, he said.

According to gardai, Mr Fennell was the “principal organiser.”

Two co-accused are due to be sent for trial when books of evidence are served on them.

Alan Fagan (32) of Charlestown Place, Finglas and Paul Fagan (39), with an address at Clontarf Road are also charged with conspiring to bring crime proceeds into Ireland.

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