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'Foot soldier' caught with €16k in crime cash sticking out of his pocket given community service

Forde attempted to flee from gardaí on foot but was caught minutes later

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Brion Hoban & Isabel Hayes

A man who was caught with over €16,000 of the proceeds of criminal conduct when a garda noticed a bundle of cash sticking out of his pocket has been sentenced to 150 hours of community service.

Gavin Forde (21) was observed by a garda in “broad daylight” and attempted to flee, but was apprehended minutes later and the bundle of cash was seized.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard it was accepted that Forde was obtaining the money to bring it elsewhere, but no explanation was given for its origin.

Forde of Rathvilly Drive, Finglas, pleaded guilty to possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct at Westwood Road, Finglas, on April 16, 2020. He has two previous convictions for possession of drugs and obstruction of justice.

Passing sentence today, Judge Karen O'Connor said Forde had involved himself in serious criminality.

“Foot soldiers are recruited so that money that is the proceeds of crime can be transferred to different parts of our city and different parts of our country and he involved himself in very serious criminality by providing his services to do so,” Judge O'Connor said.

The judge took into account a number of mitigating factors including Forde's youth, his lack of prior serious offending, his addiction issues and his early admission of guilt.

She said she had been “torn” as to whether community service would meet the severity of the crime committed by Forde, but that she was moved by a letter handed into court by a person known to Forde who has offered to become his sponsor.

This person had himself been given a second chance after suffering from addiction issues and was keen to help Forde, the court heard.

Judge O'Connor sentenced Forde to 150 hours of community service in lieu of 15 months' imprisonment. She warned him she would have no hesitation in reinstating the sentence if he fails to carry out the community service.

At a previous sentencing hearing, Garda Craig Shields told Katherine McGillicuddy BL, prosecuting, that he was on patrol in the Finglas area in an unmarked patrol car on the date in question when he saw Forde and another man interacting with each other.

Gda Shields said he saw Forde pass something over to the other man, then noticed a large bundle of cash protruding from his jacket pocket. When the accused saw the garda approaching he began to run and the garda pursued him on foot.

The garda caught Forde trying to hide in a back garden after following him through a nearby house. He arrested him a minute or two after initially seeing him with the other man, who was not detected and has not been charged relating to this offence.

The total value of the money seized was €16,235. The accused was also found to be in possession of two mobile phones.

Enquiries were made with Revenue which uncovered that the accused was not a person of means. Gardaí concluded that the amount of cash seized was out of proportion to the income of the accused and it was therefore reasonable to conclude the cash was the proceeds of criminal conduct.

The court heard that gardaí do not have an explanation as to where the money came from.

Gda Shields agreed with Laura Cunningham BL, defending, that the offence occurred in “broad daylight” in a public area. He agreed this was not “a particularly sophisticated interaction” and there was nothing “hidden or clandestine” about it.

The garda agreed with counsel that her client was obtaining the money to bring it elsewhere. He agreed that usually in this context this was “grunt work” and it was accurate to describe the accused as a “foot soldier”.

He said he was not aware that Forde had an addiction to cocaine and the offence occurred so he could clear a drug debt, but he agreed it is a possible reason for committing the offence.

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