| 15°C Dublin

Money probe Man who admitted having more than €350k crime cash worked for notorious drug trafficker Thomas Maher

Maher ran a money laundering and drug trafficking operation working with other crime groups including the Kinahan cartel.

Close

Thomas Rooney (41), of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co, Meath, leaving court

Thomas Rooney (41), of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co, Meath, leaving court

Thomas Rooney (41), of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co, Meath, leaving court

A MAN who pleaded guilty at the Special Criminal Court to having over €350k in cash belonging to crime gangs is linked to rogue haulier Thomas Maher’s international crime network.

Thomas Rooney (41), with an address at Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co Meath, was arrested in May last year after officers of the Garda National Drugs & Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) intercepted a number of vehicles in Drogheda and uncovered hundreds of thousands of euro in vacuum-packed notes.

Rooney is the third person to be convicted in relation to the cash haul which was linked to Maher who is currently serving 14 years in prison for his role in transporting cocaine from the Netherlands to Ireland via the UK and laundering cash.

Rooney’s former partner was previously given a suspended sentence for her role in moving cash for the crime gang led by Thomas Maher.

Maher who is from Clara, Co. Offaly, but also had an address in Warrington in the UK ran a money laundering and drug trafficking operation working with other crime groups including the Kinahan cartel.

He was busted after police hacked into the Encrochat decrypted communication service last year enabling them to read messages from criminals like Maher in real time.

This led to gardai targeting those involved in the money laundering operation which led to Rooney’s arrest on May 11 last year.

Arraigned on a single charge before the three-judge court today Rooney of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co Meath 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.

Defence counsel John Fitzgerald SC, representing Rooney, told the court that his client may have to have a lung transplant and asked that the case be put in for mention on September 13.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, sitting with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, remanded Rooney on continuing bail, with a sentence hearing listed for October 4.

Rooney had also been charged with 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.

He was further charged with possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct, having €7,650 in cash at North Road, Drogheda on May 11, 2020.

Last January, Rooney's former partner, care worker Catherine Dawson (44), also of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co Meath pleaded guilty to two counts on the indictment after she was caught moving over €600,000 in crime cash.

Sunday World Newsletter

Sign up for the latest news and updates

This field is required This field is required

Mr Justice Hunt, presiding at the Special Criminal Court, sentenced her to three years and nine months in prison but fully suspended the term for five years. He said a significant factor in the court's decision was that Ms Dawson is responsible for the primary care of her 14-year-old son.

Close

Thomas Maher.

Thomas Maher.

Thomas Maher.

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

Their co-accused Jason Reed (40), whom the court found was a "trusted, high level member of a transnational criminal organisation", was sentenced to seven years in prison.

Reed has strong links to Maher as well as the Kinahan cartel but was not known to gardai for involvement in organised crime before last year’s operation.

He had pleaded guilty to money laundering and possessing the proceeds of crime at the car park, when he was in possession of €289,770 in euro and £62,025 (€70,207) in cash in a blue Nike bag.

Reed, of Maelduin, Dunshaughlin, Co Meath, also pleaded guilty to money laundering at his home address after €32,330 and £390 (€441) was found there on May 11 of last year.

Maher is believed to have worked with other crime gangs to bring drugs into Ireland and take money out of the country to be laundered.

Close

Catherine Dawson (44), and Thomas Rooney (41), both of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co, Meath, leaving court.  PIC:  Collins

Catherine Dawson (44), and Thomas Rooney (41), both of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co, Meath, leaving court. PIC: Collins

Catherine Dawson (44), and Thomas Rooney (41), both of Betaghstown Wood, Bettystown, Co, Meath, leaving court. PIC: Collins

He has been involved in organised crime for over two decades and was also arrested by UK police investigating the deaths of 29 Vietnamese migrants in a truck container in Essex in 2019 but was later released without charge.

He sent messages to an associate looking to plan a prison attack on Armagh haulier Ronan Hughes who is serving a 20 year sentence for his role in the Essex incident.

Speaking about Hughes, Maher wrote: "I want to get a fella seen." He was asked "Seen hurt you mean?" to which Maher replied "yes".

He said : "Yeah, dragging me into this mess."

Authorities intervened before any attack could take place.


Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices


Privacy