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criminal's battle CAB target luxury home of suspected tiger kidnapper Stefan Saunders

Saunders has applied for free legal aid to fight off the Bureau’s claims to his house in Clonee, west Dublin, and another home in Finglas,on the capital’s northside.

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Stefan Saunders faces losing his plush home to the Criminal Assets Bureau

Stefan Saunders faces losing his plush home to the Criminal Assets Bureau

Stefan Saunders faces losing his plush home to the Criminal Assets Bureau

SUSPECTED tiger kidnapper Stefan Saunders faces losing his plush home to the Criminal Assets Bureau after they issued a Proceeds of Crime case against him.

Saunders has applied for free legal aid to fight off the Bureau’s claims to his house in Clonee, west Dublin, and another home in Finglas,on the capital’s northside, which they will allege that he bought with money he earned through crime.

The house at Hazelbury Park in Clonee has been decorated at huge expense, with marble and high-end fittings, and is understood to be the pride and joy of Saunders and wife Tammy, who regularly shows it off on social media postings.

Saunders (43) is suspected of being the most-prolific tiger kidnapper in the country and gardai put huge efforts into nabbing him over the years, eventually catching him as he plotted a robbery.

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Suspected tiger kidnapper Stefan Saunders

Suspected tiger kidnapper Stefan Saunders

Suspected tiger kidnapper Stefan Saunders

However, after winning a conviction and a jail term against him, Saunders was released from prison earlier this year because of good behaviour and his willingness to carry out ‘community work’.

Saunders is regarded as a top tier and dangerous criminal who once attended a military training camp and did a course in counter surveillance run by former Soviet soldiers in Eastern Europe, yet he is now hoping that the taxpayer will fund his fight against the Bureau for his home.

Justice Alexander Owens has warned Saunders that he needs to get a solicitor or enter his own sworn statements if he is making defence claims on the properties and looking for the State to foot his legal bill.

Earlier this month he gave the criminal until January 18 to make his case to the court or vowed that the hearing would go ahead.

Saunders is the latest in a line of serious organised career criminals looking for free legal aid against the Bureau.

In December, CAB appealed a decision to grant David Waldron State funds in his fight against their claims against his stunning Wexford mansion and other assets.

Drug dealer Waldron was once part of Eamon ‘the Don’ Dunne’s crew and is understood to have amassed a fortune supplying drugs, but he was granted legal aid in court so he could challenge the Bureau’s case against him.

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Stefan Saunders' home in Clonee

Stefan Saunders' home in Clonee

Stefan Saunders' home in Clonee

The judgement from the Appeals Court is pending.

Saunders was once suspected of having amassed a €6million fortune from a career in organised crime, during which he lavished expensive gifts on loved ones and lived it up in the family’s €400,000 luxury home at Hazelbury Park in Clonee, which is now part of the proceedings against him.

He was released from jail last September, along with two notorious associates, after pleading guilty to his role in a €2 million bank raid plot.

Despite receiving a seven-and-a-half year sentence for masterminding the raid on a cash delivery to an ATM in Co Meath, he was released on a jail scheme involving community service.

Saunders was a number-one target of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau when he was nabbed in 2016 during the botched robbery. Together with the Special Crime Task force they put together Operation Woven against him and his gang.

They planned the robbery at the ATM in a disused bank and were awaiting the arrival of the money when gardai swooped.

He pleaded guilty to firearms and conspiracy to rob charges when he appeared in court.

Saunders was also the chief suspect in a 2015 tiger kidnap involving the family of a security guard. He had walked free in 2010 on tiger kidnap charges when a search warrant used was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

He had pleaded not guilty to the kidnap of a family in that case.

Gardai have been on the trail of Saunders’ money for years and at one point during a search on his home in Hazelbury they even checked the cavity walls of the house believing that he may have stored cash there, but they found nothing.

His wife, Tammy Saunders, is also listed in the CAB case. She was once a director of a number of hair salons along with her husband, but in recent years has been making frilly children’s clothing.

Saunders had spent weeks monitoring the Co Meath ATM before he made his move but despite his forensic awareness and counter surveillance training, he had no idea that officers had bugged the disused bank where he planned to lie in wait for the money.

Officers heard him running his gang with military precision and planning with his co-conspirators, Damien Noonan and Fran Murphy, about their tactics to steal €200,000.

Unknown to the gang, investigators were secretly watching their every move and knew Saunders and Murphy had worn layers of clothing, latex gloves and had a sheet to place on the floor in case they would leave any DNA evidence behind as they waited on the cash.

Saunders was armed with a loaded Makarov pistol and was lifted as another ERU team nabbed Noonan.

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