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bags of cash Woman who admitted having €600k in organised crime cash has links to caged haulier Thomas Maher

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Cash seized by Gardai in Co Louth last May

Cash seized by Gardai in Co Louth last May

Cash seized by Gardai in Co Louth last May

A 44-year-old healthcare worker who has pleaded guilty to having €600k in organised crime cash was moving the money for a now jailed haulage boss who was trafficking guns, drugs and cash for almost all of Ireland’s crime gangs.

Catherine Dawson had been arrested as part of an ongoing garda investigation targeting serious organised criminals, where officers of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) intercepted a number of vehicles in Drogheda on May 11 last and uncovered hundreds of thousands of euro in vacuum-packed notes.

She and two men were arrested in Drogheda as part an international investigation into Co Offaly trucking boss Thomas Maher (40) who was jailed for 14 years last month at Liverpool Crown Court after pleading guilty to transporting cocaine from the Netherlands to Ireland via the UK and laundering cash.

A joint investigation between the GNDOB and the English National Crime Agency (NCA) found that Maher had arranged for the movement of the €600,000 in cash that was seized in Co Louth last May.

It is understood that the plan was for this money was to be moved out of Ireland.

Maher who has been described as a “logistics manager” for all of Ireland’s major drugs gangs was busted after police agencies compromised the EncroChat service last year and in December became the first Irish national to be sentenced in the secretive probe.

This was previously a secure encrypted phone messaging service used by international organised crime groups including the Kinahan cartel but international police forces have compromised it.

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Thomas Maher

Thomas Maher

Thomas Maher

At the Special Criminal Court today, Catherine Dawson pleaded guilty to possessing property that is the proceeds of criminal conduct, to wit, a blue Nike bag containing €289,770 and £65,025 (€70,207) in cash, while knowing that or believing that or being reckless as to whether or not the said property was the proceeds of criminal conduct at Spar, Donore Road, Drogheda, Co Louth on May 11, 2020.

She also pleaded guilty guilty to possessing property that is the proceeds of criminal conduct, to wit, a black bag containing €254,840 in cash, while knowing that or believing that or being reckless as to whether or not the said property was the proceeds of criminal conduct on the same occasion.

She is a community supervisor in healthcare who specialises in dementia care and has no previous criminal convictions.

Caroline Biggs SC, representing Dawson, requested that a psychological report be prepared on behalf of her client and this was granted by the court.

"She has no history of mental health issues but she has been on antidepressants as a consequence of these matters," said Ms Biggs.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge Flann Brennan, remanded Dawson on continuing bail until March 24, for a sentence hearing.

Dawson's partner, Thomas Rooney (41), also of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co Meath, was expected to be arraigned before the Special Criminal Court this morning.

However his arraignment has now been adjourned until March 1 and he was released on bail until then.

He is facing the same charges as Dawson as well as an additional charge of possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct, having €7,650 in cash at North Road, Drogheda on May 11, 2020.

Mr Rooney and his partner were first arrested on suspicion of enhancing the ability of an organised crime gang to commit a serious offence.

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