A man, who claimed that €39,000 found buried in a paint tin on his parents’ farm near Ballyhaunis, was from an insurance claim , has had the entire amount confiscated by the State.
Mr Jimmy Finn (45) of Carrowkeel, Ballyhaunis is already serving a seven-year prison sentence for the possession – with the intention to sell – of 1,584.498g of herbal cannabis with a street value of €39,612.49.
At the original hearing, he pleaded guilty to the offence after members of the Mayo Garda Divisional Drug Unit raided his caravan at Carrowkeel on April 19, 2008, after receiving a tip-off.
In evidence, Garda Michael Moran said the drug unit had raided Mr Finn’s property at 7.45pm and searched the caravan, in which he was living on his parents’ farm.
Mr Finn had immediately handed over a container with 10.15g of herbal cannabis and they subsequently found more wrapped in silage covering, hidden in the environs of the caravan. They also found the paint tin with the monies buried in loose ground.
At last week’s Confiscation hearing, Mr Finn argued that the monies were from an insurance payment he had been awarded after a serious accident in 1982. He said a decade later he received £90,000 sterling for the accident, which had left him with a fractured skull and jaw.
Mr Finn told Judge Raymond Groarke that he was saving the money for his only daughter, Ella. He also admitted that he was in receipt of Disability Benefit throughout this time.
Calling his elderly mother to the stand, Mr Finn asked her to corroborate his story that the monies – allegedly cashed from shares and bonds in which he had invested – had been buried since 2002.
However, when asked to present proof of such a transaction, he responded that his sister was presently researching the matter on his behalf.
Mrs Teresa Finn said that some years ago, after her son found the notes to be damp and partially destroyed while hidden in silage bags, the two of them began a protracted operation to dry the notes and exchange them for new ones in the local Bank of Ireland. It was an exercise that took time and patience.
Judge Raymond Groarke said: “The question I have to decide is whether the monies found in the paint tin were the proceeds of crime. At the time he told gardaí he had engaged in the selling of drugs for a period of three months. Now he says he was engaged with it since 2006,” observed Judge Groarke. He also remarked that the money found in the paint tin was effectively Mr Finn’s float – which tallied with the contemporaneous value of the drugs found for buying drugs.
“The evidence is that Mr Finn was involved in drugs in a very serious way. The gardaí said that in April ’08, the drugs found had a street-value of €39,000. I don’t believe your account that you were more or less in it as a charity,” he continued, referring to Mr Finn’s claim that his profits were minimal.
After considering the evidence carefully the judge directed that the entire monies be confiscated.