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Whelan 'n' dealing Graham Whelan told Gardai he was a 'dangerous criminal' when he was caught with crime cash

The witness said that Whelan told gardaí he was self-employed, that he had paid his taxes and had bought the watch on his credit card for €8k.

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Graham “The Wig” Whelan, at the Criminal Courts of Justice

Graham “The Wig” Whelan, at the Criminal Courts of Justice

Graham “The Wig” Whelan, at the Criminal Courts of Justice

Dublin criminal Graham Whelan, who used crime cash to pay for a penthouse suite at a luxury Dublin hotel and to refurbish his home, has made a "dramatic change" to his life since the tragic death of his wife, the Special Criminal Court has heard.

Whelan (39) of Walkinstown Avenue, Walkinstown, Dublin 12, pleaded guilty in July at the Special Criminal Court to participating in the actions of an organised crime group by laundering money for the group and being in possession of €1.2k in cash and a €28k watch, the proceeds of crime at the Intercontinental Hotel, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, on January 31, 2019.

Whelan also pleaded guilty to paying €2,140 for a three-night stay at the hotel at Room 342, knowing or believing that the money was the proceeds of criminal conduct, contrary to Section 7 of the Act.

When gardaí asked Whelan on the night how he could account for the €1,275 in cash he had in his pocket, he told officers that he had gotten it from "up his Swiss roll" and told them to keep it.

Whelan also pleaded guilty to possessing an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak gentleman's watch; knowing that the property, valued at €28k, was purchased with the proceeds of crime.

Father-of-four Whelan was granted bail by the non-jury court in March, after judges considered the death of his partner as being the “crucial factor" in his application.

Today at the non-jury court, Detective Garda Donal Donoghue of the Special Crime Task Force told Grainne Mullan BL that he accompanied other gardaí to Room 342 at the hotel on January 31, 2019 on foot of a warrant investigating a crime gang involved in drugs.

Det Gda Donoghue told Ms Mullan that he searched Whelan and found €1,275 in the accused's pocket and found a hotel receipt for €2,140, which had been paid in cash.

Det Gda Donoghue told the court that a valuer had appraised the "customised stainless steel" watch found on Whelan, which had "diamond settings", and had placed its worth at €28k.

The witness said that Whelan told gardaí he was self-employed, that he had paid his taxes and had bought the watch on his credit card for €8k.

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Graham 'The Wig' Whelan

Graham 'The Wig' Whelan

Graham 'The Wig' Whelan

Det Gda Donoghue said that on the night of January 31, 2019, Whelan told gardaí he was "a dangerous criminal" and to "ask that fella there; he locked me up", referring to Sergeant Michael Twomey, who was present at the hotel.

The detective said that Whelan's remarks referenced his arrest in March 2000, when he was arrested in connection with a two-kilo cocaine seizure and an ecstasy tablet seizure estimated at €1.5m.

Det Gda Donoghue told Ms Mullan that 18 searches were then carried out following the arrest, which included searches of the properties of Whelan's mother and father and his sister's house.

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The detective said that Whelan had 33 previous convictions; five of which were for drug offences. The witness said that Whelan had also been convicted of grievous bodily harm in Spain after a "bar brawl" and had a fully-suspended two-year sentence imposed on him in November 2016.

The witness said that in 2001 Whelan was sentenced to six years' imprisonment for a drugs sale or supply offence and had also been sentenced to three years in jail for a separate assault causing harm.

Det Gda Donoghue agreed with defence counsel, Michael Bowman SC, that while Whelan's attitude in the hotel was a "truculent" one, the defendant had since been "courteous and easy to deal with".

The witness agreed with Mr Bowman that Whelan's behaviour on the night of January 31, 2019, was due to the influence of drugs and alcohol. Mr Bowman said that his client had a "lengthy sentence" imposed upon him at 17 and that alcohol "doesn't suit him".

Counsel said that Whelan was now a father of four children, aged between three and 10, and that his partner had taken her own life in 2020. Mr Bowman said that while Whelan's mother was of considerable support, Whelan was the primary carer for the children. Counsel said that the death of Whelan's partner led to a "dramatic change" in his client's life.

Mr Bowman said that Whelan had raised €12.5k for a suicide prevention charity and had positive social welfare reports since the "tragic" loss of his partner.

Counsel said that both the watch and the cash had been forfeited to the State and that Whelan's family suffered a "very considerable trauma", when the death of Whelan's partner was discovered. Mr Justice Tony Hunt said that the tragedy would have been "unimaginable" for the family.

Mr Bowman said that Whelan had undergone drug and alcohol counselling and that his client's priority was for the upbringing of his children since the passing of his partner.

Counsel said that Whelan had "grasped" the opportunity to be part of a "social contract for the betterment of his family" and that supporting documents showed that Whelan was "genuine" in his efforts.

Mr Justice Hunt adjourned the case at the three-judge court to November 15 for sentencing.

Whelan also pleaded guilty to being in possession of cannabis at the penthouse suite on the same date.

He pleaded guilty to possessing cash 'knowing or believing the property, to wit; money in the amount of €1,275, was the proceeds of criminal conduct, and did convert, transfer, handle, acquire, possess or use the said property, contrary to Section 7 of the Criminal Justice (Money) Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act 2010.

Whelan further pleaded guilty to possession of amounts of cannabis at the hotel and cocaine at his Walkinstown home, worth €20 each.

Finally, Whelan pleaded guilty to using money, knowing or believing the money to be the proceeds of crime, to refurbish his Walkinstown Avenue home between August 21, 2018 and May 1, 2018.

The court has previously heard that during a search of Whelan's home, gardai discovered that "an extremely high standard" of home improvements had been undertaken to refurbish the property.

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