Jim Mansfield Jnr walks free from Portlaoise prison after serving just 13 months
Kinahan cartel launderer and hotel tycoon sneaks out of Portlaoise Prison after early morning release – but we were lying in wait
This is the moment disgraced businessman Jim Mansfield walked free from Portlaoise Prison after serving just 13 months behind bars for attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Dressed in his trademark navy slacks, white shirt and zip-neck jumper, the 54-year-old Kinahan cartel associate was released from the top security prison at 6.50am on Tuesday.
The father-of-two’s release under cover of darkness came after authorities agreed to free him from his sentence a day early in a bid to avoid our cameras.
Despite the ruse, a Sunday Worldteam was waiting and captured the first moments of freedom for Mansfield Jnr —who was previously forced to drop a case against this newspaper for reporting on his links to organised crime.
Emerging from the prison carrying two plastic bags filled with his belongings, he was greeted by a smiling blonde-haired woman who arrived to collect him in a 161-registered Range Rover.
Mansfield Jnr also appeared delighted and, were it not for the foreboding sight of soldiers patrolling the roof of the prison at his back, could have been emerging from a relaxing night’s sleep at the Citywest hotel – back in the days when his family owned it.
In February last year, Mansfield Jnr – who was known as the ‘Lord of the Manor’ during his time on Portlaoise’s C-block – was jailed for 18 months for attempting to pervert the course of justice by directing that CCTV footage be destroyed.
The footage showed Mansfield Jnr with Martin Byrne on the morning the Citywest hotel’s former head of security was kidnapped by dissident republicans Dessie O’Hare and Declan Duffy.
The Special Criminal Court acquitted Mansfield of conspiring with others to have Martin Byrne kidnapped by a criminal gang on June 19, 2015, but convicted him of directing that the footage be destroyed.
Mr Justice Alex Owens said that CCTV footage showed Mansfield Jnr with Martin Byrne before the two men travelled together to Keating Park where Martin Byrne was kidnapped by Duffy and O’Hare.
Mr Justice Owens said although the “most likely” scenario was that Mansfield Jnr “lured” Martin Byrne to a meeting with O’Hare and Duffy that morning with a view to facilitating his kidnap, the court could not reasonably exclude the possibilities that O’Hare had misled Mansfield Jnr about the purpose of the meeting or that Mansfield Jnr was not privy to the kidnap plot.
O’Hare was jailed for seven years in 2019 for falsely imprisoning Mr Byrne while Duffy was jailed for six years in 2018 for the same offence.
During Mansfield Jnr’s time in Portlaoise, further evidence was given by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in the High Court of his links with serious organised criminals.
Details of his associations with the Kinahan Organised Crime Group emerged after the CAB sought possession of a luxury gated home in Saggart, Co Dublin which the court heard had been given to the gang.
The High Court heard that Mansfield Jnr handed over the property along with cash after he failed to invest €4.5 million in cash in property, which the gang had given him.
Daniel Kinahan lived in the house for a time and some of his personal items were found there.
The High Court heard details of some of the Kinahan gang’s assets in Dublin and its attempts to invest in the Dublin property market.
The gang gave Mansfield Jnr €4.5m in cash in two suitcases in 2009 to buy property.
However, Mansfield’s fortunes deteriorated in the financial crash and the gang did not get their property.
The deal turned sour and Mansfield repaid the gang with some cash and the houses at Coldwater Lakes in Saggart.
Jim Mansfield Jnr was described as having got “caught up in a quagmire.”
The court heard that the house was specifically under the control of the Kinahan cartel’s top two leaders, Daniel Kinahan and jailed drug trafficker Thomas ‘Bomber’ Kavanagh, from 2014.
Kinahan has previously been found by the High Court to be the gang’s controller and manager.
Kavanagh was the head of the gang’s UK drug trafficking operation.
A search in Dublin in January 2017 marked the beginning of the end for Kavanagh’s empire, which used a network of lieutenant money launderers without criminal conviction and seemingly ordinary companies.
Kavanagh (54), who was arrested in England in January 2019, was sentenced to 21 years in jail last March at Ipswich Crown Court after being convicted on drugs and money-laundering charges.
Some of Daniel Kinahan’s personal items were found in the house along with €5,000 in cash in a white envelope with ‘KAVS’ written on it, which CAB believe was Kavanagh’s money.
CAB also seized another €24,150 in cash at the house and a further €20,500 in a nearby property.
The court heard that no one claimed ownership of the money but an attempt to place the house in the legitimate ownership of Kavanagh was never effected.
Mr Justice Michael MacGrath was also told that Kavanagh is an international drug trafficker who is married to Joanne Byrne, the sister of David and Liam Byrne.
Liam Byrne is the head of the Byrne organised crime group, the Dublin branch of the Kinahan gang. David Byrne was shot dead at the Regency Hotel in 2016.
The Mansfields agreed to the orders for the confiscation of the property and cash, not to contest the matter and not to seek compensation in the future.
The High Court granted CAB orders allowing it to seize the Kinahan gang’s house and cash and remit the assets to the exchequer.
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