Guilty plea | 

Man who transported €104k in criminal cash because he had drug debt is jailed for two years

Meath man Michael Greene (46) said ‘I was asked to collect the bag, I was getting €500 for it. I have no idea what was in it’

Declan BrennanSunday World

A man who agreed to transport thousands of euros in criminal cash from a village in Louth because he had a drug debt has had been jailed for two years.

Michael Greene (46) of Seabury Lawns, Mornington, Meath pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to money laundering of €104,720 in cash at a place in Swords, Co Dublin on October 1, 2021.

David Perry BL, prosecuting, told the court that gardai had obtained confidential information in relation to another man, Michael Jameson of Aidton Court, Newtown Mearns, Glasgow, Scotland and his arrival at Dublin Airport from Dubai.

A surveillance operation was set up and gardaí observed Jameson leave the airport and get into an Audi Q5, driven by a third man, not before the court.

The car was driven to Clondalkin and then to Knockbridge, Co Louth where it was parked for half an hour in a lay-by near a church. At around 5pm Jameson got out of the car and walked to the nearby graveyard with a plastic bag.

He got into a Toyota RAV4 driven by Greene, who then drove Jameson back to his car. The court heard gardaí then followed Greene, who was not the target of the garda operation but became a target in the course of it.

Michael Greene (46)

The defendant drove back to Dublin and gardaí stopped his car on the Swords exit of the M1, and found a large quantity of cash inside different plastic bags.

Asked if it everything in the car belonged to him he replied: “No, I was asked to collect the bag, I was getting €500 for it. I have no idea what was in it. I was told it would only be money. A fella just handed it to me.”

During questioning he told gardaí he had a chronic coke addiction and had built up a drug debt. He said while he was now clean, there was money outstanding and that some of the debt was to be scratched off in return for his participation in this operation.

He told gardaí he was afraid of the people he owed money to, saying “the whole reason I am in this mess is because I’m terrified of them.”

Oisin Clarke BL, defending, said his client suffered from sleep apnea and was using cocaine to “calm him down”. He said he kept his cocaine habit from even his family but his increasing use caused him to build up the drug debt.

Mr Clarke asked the court to take into consideration his client’s lesser role in the operation and that he was not the target of the operation.

“He was not on the garda radar, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing,” Mr Clarke said.

Judge Pauline Codd said that the amount of money was significant and while Greene was acting merely as “a foot soldier”, criminal organisations needed foot soldiers to operate.

She noted evidence that Greene was “highly psychologically vulnerable” at the time and was in fear for his life over drug debts. She suspended the final year of a three-year prison term on condition that Greene keep the peace and be of good behaviour.

The court heard that Jameson previously received a three-and-a-half year prison sentence for his role in the operation.

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