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Robbery mastermind Stefan Saunders and wife went on property buying spree after €2.5m heist

Notorious robber and his wife splurged on property purchases and six-week Florida holiday as CAB targets houses for being proceeds of crime
Stefan Saunders and his Dublin home

Stefan Saunders and his Dublin home

Stefan Saunders leaving Trim District Court in 2016, where he faced charges for a cash-in-transit heist

Stefan Saunders leaving Trim District Court in 2016, where he faced charges for a cash-in-transit heist

Stefan Saunders at Trim Court

Stefan Saunders at Trim Court

A gun seized during Saunders’ arrest

A gun seized during Saunders’ arrest

Eamon DillonSunday World

Tiger-kidnapper Stefan Saunders went on a property spending spree shortly after the infamous €2.5million Brinks Allied robbery in 2005.

Saunders and his wife Tammy, described in the High Court his week as being part of an Organised Crime Group (OCG), spent lavish sums refurbishing their own home and other properties.

The couple are accused of setting up a series of companies and using them to launder the cash for the gang’s criminal activity.

Gardai believe Saunders and his wife lived the high-life with the proceeds of his criminal activities.

Their lavish spending spree included:

  • A six-week luxury holiday in Orlando with extended family.
  • The purchase of a home in Clonee for €360,000.
  • €125,000 refurbishment and extension of the house.
  • €79,500 apartment in Finglas
  • BMW X5 bought with top-up mortgage.
  • €30,000 extension to relative’s home.
  • €768,000 ‘shortfall’ in declared income.

Counsel for the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) this week brought an application to have the couple’s home at Hazelbury Park, Clonee, west Dublin, declared as being the proceeds of crime.

Stefan Saunders leaving Trim District Court in 2016, where he faced charges for a cash-in-transit heist

Stefan Saunders leaving Trim District Court in 2016, where he faced charges for a cash-in-transit heist

An affidavit from an investigating officer described the Saunders OCG as being involved in the Brinks Allied cash-in-transit robbery in 2005 in which €2.5m was stolen.

Stefan Saunders was interviewed by gardaí in connection with the heist but was not prosecuted.

In the robbery, the cash was taken from a Brinks Allied van at a petrol station in Artane, Dublin, when the crew stopped to buy coffee.

It was also heard how Saunders was investigated and tried over another 2010 tiger-kidnapping, but a judge ordered his acquittal in that case.

In 2016, he was caught robbing an ATM cash delivery van in Co. Meath, for which he served a 10-year sentence.

Saunders previously come to the attention of CAB when a relative of his wife Tammy was the target of a investigation by the agency.

It was also heard in court that even if Saunders’ claimed income as a plasterer was accepted, there was a shortfall of €780,000 in the couple’s income during which time they bought two houses.

Stefan Saunders at Trim Court

Stefan Saunders at Trim Court

One of them, at Hazelbury Park, was bought for €360,000, with another €125,000 spent on refurbishments, including an extension built in 2006 and paid for in cash.

The property was bought with a mortgage, although there was no evidence Saunders ever ran a plastering business despite making a number of returns to Revenue.

Gifts of cash from family members were described as “a money- laundering exercise”.

A number of firms set up by the couple – or bought as going concerns – were used to launder cash, including a hair-dressing salon.

Counsel for Saunders said that from 1994 to 2008 his client was a well-paid tradesman working during the height of the Celtic Tiger.

Mortgages were easy to get, he said, including 100% mortgages, and that Saunders was not involved in crime at the time the Clonee house was bought.

He also argued that Saunders’ financial details had been previously looked at during the investigation into a relative of Tammy’s and nothing “untoward” was found.

Judge Alex Owens, reserving his judgement on whether to rule the house as being the proceeds of crime, said: “I’ll look at the silent witnesses and what they tell me.”

Last year, details of the couple’s income were revealed in court as they made an application for free legal aid to fight the CAB case.

Saunders was living on Jobseeker’s Allowance of more than €200 per week at the time and Tammy was getting a Pandemic Unemployment Payment of €350 per week.

They listed their monthly living expenses as €2,553 per month and said they can’t afford a solicitor to fight the case.

Mortgages on two houses, their family home and an investment property, have been taken over by vulture funds as they have failed to keep up the repayments, it was heard.

But Judge Owens said their application for free legal aid failed to detail how they could have legitimately afforded to purchase the properties bought in 2005 and 2006 and spent €120,000 on an extension.

Tammy, who is a dressmaker, was facing personal insolvency at the time and an investment property was to be sold to pay part of the mortgage on the family home.

Her dressmaking business netted her less than €30,000 in the last year it was operating before the pandemic. She pays rent of €500 a month for a showroom.

The court heard that for three years she has been in receipt of a further €280 per week in social welfare back-to-work payments as she established her business before relying on the PUP.

Stefan Saunders hadn’t worked since he was released from prison but was a plasterer up until 2010. He was freed from jail in September 2020 and was in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance.

The Sunday World previously revealed how Saunders is suspected of being Ireland’s most prolific tiger-kidnapper and had been the target of a major Garda effort to catch him.

A gun seized during Saunders’ arrest

A gun seized during Saunders’ arrest

He 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.

Despite receiving a seven-and-a-half-year sentence for masterminding the attempted raid on a cash delivery to an ATM in Co. Meath in 2016, he was freed on a jail scheme involving community service.

Saunders was a target of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau when he was nabbed during the botched robbery.

His gang planned the heist at the ATM in a disused bank and were awaiting the arrival of the money when gardaí swooped on them.


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