bail hearing | 

Gardai found €50k cash in home of 'trusted confidant' of gang leader Christy Keane, court told

Bail hearing told Dermot McManus (51) is an associate of the Keane crime gang who were described as one of Ireland's "most vicious and ruthless" gangs.
Christy Keane

Christy Keane

Robin Schiller

Cash totalling almost €50,000 was found concealed at the home of a "trusted confidant" of Limerick crime boss Christy Keane, a non-jury court has heard.

During a bail hearing it was alleged that Dermot McManus (51), of Keating Park in Killalee, Co Limerick, is an associate of the Keane crime gang who were described as one of Ireland's "most vicious and ruthless" gangs.

The accused is charged with handling sums of cash worth €28,550 and £17,240 (€20,671), knowing or believing or being reckless as to whether it was the proceeds of criminal conduct on 17 June 2020, and allowing an account at the Limerick and District Credit Union to be used for the purposes of handling the proceeds of crime on the same date.

He is further charged with possession of a stolen blue Ford Transit van with a 161-L registration between August 10, 2019 and June 12, 2020; and with handling a white 151-C Mercedes Sprinter between June 2, 2020 and May 23, 2021.

Dermot McManus was remanded in custody with consent to bail despite garda objections, during which the Special Criminal Court heard that the cash sums were discovered "concealed" in socks and a jacket inside his bedroom.

Det Gda John Sheahan, of Henry Street garda station, objected to bail citing fears that the accused would commit further serious offences and that he was a flight risk.

This morning he told Fiona Murphy SC, prosecuting, that the accused is a known close associate of Christy Keane, who was described as a leader of the Keane organised crime group (OCG) in Limerick.

Det Gda Sheahan said the Keane OCG are involved in the distribution of drugs and firearms on both a national and international level.

The detective said this gang were traditionally based in St Mary's Park but are now located in the Garryowen area of the city.

Christy Keane

Christy Keane

The court heard they were once associated with members of the Collopy gang but are now separate entities although no dispute occurred between them.

The three judges were told this gang was involved in a feud with the McCarthy/Dundon crime group since 2000, with feud related incidents dating as far back as 1993.

The offences linked to this feud included 19 murders, 15 attempted murders, 38 firearm seizures, 35 explosives recovered as well as over 2,000 rounds of ammunition being seized, the court heard.

The detective also described the accused as a "trusted confidant" of Christy Keane.

Mr McManus' arrest, the court heard, arose from an investigation codenamed Operation Coronation which involved 170 gardaí from both local and national units.

More than 60 premises were searched in June 2020 as part of the investigation into the accumulation of wealth by the Keane OCG including numerous suspicious cash transactions.

The detective said he had no doubt that the accused is a trusted associate of the Keane OCG, which he described as "one of the most vicious and ruthless crime groups in the State" who utilise many individuals to do their bidding.

Det Gda Sheahan said that at the time of his arrest the accused asked a family member present to ring Christy Keane and inform him of his arrest.

The detective said that he had concerns that the accused would continue to engage in money laundering if admitted bail, and that he posed a flight risk.

He added that Mr McManus had family ties to the UK and that a cocaine press was also found at the rear of his property when it was searched in June 2020.

He agreed with Patrick Barriscale BL, defending, that Mr McManus hasn't been charged in relation to possession of the cocaine press.

Det Gda Sheahan disagreed with Mr Barriscale when he put it to him that garda concerns of his client committing further offences was "no more than conjecture".

The defence counsel had also stated that his client was not charged with the serious crimes outlined in the bail hearing and the fact that other individuals caused or committed such crimes had "nothing to do" with Mr McManus.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, said that the strongest element of the objection was future offending based on evidence of association.

He said that, while it cannot be ignored, it is at the far end of what might be contemplated in terms of admissible evidence regarding an objection.

The three judges granted bail on strict conditions, including a €10,000 independent surety, a daily sign on at the local garda station, and to observe a curfew.

Ms Murphy also asked that a condition of the bail be that Dermot McManus does not associate with six named men, including Christy Keane.

The accused was remanded in custody with consent to bail, pending the approval of an independent surety, to February 18 for service of the book of evidence.

He first appeared before the non-jury court last week when him and his partner, Terese Halpin (49), were charged.

Ms Halpin is accused of possession of the same cash sums on June 17 last year, and allowing a Permanent TSB account to be used for handling the proceeds of crime between January 17, 2019 and June 10, 2020. She was granted bail.

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