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Under the radar Meet the secret drug millionaire who paid out €1 million to CAB

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Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart

Robert Stewart

Builder Robert Stewart looks like any ordinary tradesman as he heads to work in Dublin in a well-used caddy van.

But the Sunday World can reveal that the secret millionaire has just paid an eye-watering proceeds of crime settlement to the Criminal Assets Bureau after his hidden stash of drug loot was uncovered when he was nabbed with sleeping pills and diazepam.

Stewart and his partner didn’t contest a case against almost €1million in assets taken against them by the Bureau and signed their fortune away to the State last month.

The 34-year-old has worked as a builder and previously drove a taxi – but gardaí discovered he was secretly building a drug fortune selling pills which he was storing in Northern Ireland in a bid to throw off investigators.

Stewart even rented a premises under a different name and officers suspect he used the border to try to conceal from police what he was really doing while moonlighting as a legitimate tradesman.

He also registered himself as a builder to carry out construction work on his own home around the time he was nabbed by the PSNI, who passed on information to their counterparts in the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.

Sources say Stewart was working as a ‘lone trader’ and had no known links to any major drug gang at the time he was caught with thousands of street drugs for supply.

Ironically, he and his partner, who was also named in High Court proceedings, live on the same road, Riverside Drive in Coolock, where CAB previously seized the home of drug dealer Brian Mahony.

Mahony’s partner Ciara went to the High Court to try to save her trophy home, complete with bullet-resistant windows, after it was taken to cover a Revenue demand.

Stewart is a rarity in the drug world in that he was operating under the garda radar and was simply nabbed in a case of bad luck.

It was the PSNI who discovered his stash house and caught him with drugs in the back of his van in 2015. When he appeared before Newtownards Magistrates’ Court on charges relating to the seizure of more than €121,000 worth of drugs, he was accused of possessing Class C drugs zopiclone and diazepam with intent to supply.

The court heard that police had stopped and searched his van and found three boxes in the back, two of which contained the drugs. The boxes were addressed to Adam Wallace, who the court heard was a name Stewart had been using to rent a space in a storage facility. A search there unearthed a further 25,000 sleeping pills.

Judge Greg McCourt refused him bail at the time saying: “You are obviously involved in this.

“It just doesn’t ring true that you are driving a van with false plates for a joke and have a false driving licence, with 75,000 tablets contained in the van which you know nothing about, from premises rented in a false name – it indicates total lying and dishonesty,” he said.

“Even if you were doing it to avoid the Revenue in the south, that’s still a breach of the law.”

Following the arrest, officers from the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau in Dublin raided a house in Coolock on foot of documentation seized by the PSNI. There they found €50,000 in cash and a number of Rolex watches.

A follow-up operation netted a further €300,000 in bank accounts linked to Stewart, along with a house at Carndonagh Road in Donaghmede.

In 2015, Stewart listed himself as the builder in a project on his own house at Riverside Drive, when he got planning permission for a front and back extension at the plush property.

In 2017, he was convicted on the drug charges and has been in communication with CAB officers ever since.

In December 2018, the CAB went to court seeking an order against almost €500,000 in cash and bank accounts linked to Stewart. They also listed the house and the expensive watches as part of an almost €1 million treasure trove they claimed was the proceeds of crime.

Last month, Stewart saved the State any lengthy court proceedings when he forfeited the assets to the Bureau, meaning they will eventually go into the State coffers.

This week the Criminal Assets Bureau was on the case of new targets – a mid-ranking suspected drugs gang operating in Co. Louth.

A number of houses in Dundalk were searched as part of the operation and cash, drugs and other assets were seized.

The Bureau’s legal proceedings have been briefly halted by Covid restrictions on the courts service, with all listing adjourned to the December list which will be heard by Justice Alexander Owens.

A record number of CAB cases are currently before the courts and under investigation, all of which were overseen by previous Bureau chief Pat Clavin.

It is expected that the level of output by the Bureau will continue under the command of new CAB boss Michael Gubbins.

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