By Declan Brennan
A man described as a hard-working family man has avoided prison for handling nearly €100,000 in criminal cash.
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that on December 2, 2020, gardai, acting on foot of confidential information, executed a search warrant at the home of Michael Keogh (40) at Harelawn Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin.
Keogh, who lived at the house with his partner and their three children, opened the door and let gardaí in.
During the subsequent search they found four bundles of cash in the drawer of the master bedroom.
Three of these were wrapped in cling film and the total amount of cash was €30,900. Another €50,000 in cash was found in sealed vacuum pack in the wardrobe of another bedroom.
Just under nine grammes of cannabis, with an estimated street value of €172, was found in the boiler press in the kitchen.
Keogh told gardai he was holding the money for a third party who remains unidentified. He later told the Probation Service that he was holding it to pay off a drug debt.
Detective Garda Brian Johnson from the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau told Judge Sinéad Ní Chúlacháin that Keogh did not say anything about a drug debt during his interview after arrest.
Keogh pleaded guilty to laundering money, contrary to section seven of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act 2010.
Dt Gda Johnson told David Perry BL, defending, that there was nothing he could see that would lead him to believe Keogh would reoffend.
Mr Perry noted the Probation Service placed him at a low risk of reoffending and Dt Gda Johnson said Keogh was “not on the garda radar”.
Counsel said that his client was a reliable, dependable and hard-working man who has always been there for his family.
He said he is working full time for a company involved in installation of Covid safety measures, including work at Dublin Airport and for the HSE.
Mr Perry said that this company is fully aware of the conviction but have stated they are happy to continue to employ Keogh.
Judge Ní Chúlacháin said that Keogh was a hard-working man who has raised his family who relied on him. She said it was a pity that he chose to assist criminal activity in this way.
She ordered Keogh to carry out 180 hours of community service in lieu of an 18 month custodial sentence.
Judge Ní Chúlacháin noted that he has provided drug-free urines, and that he co-operated with gardaí during the investigation.
She said she didn’t consider Keogh’s five previous convictions to be relevant.
Those convictions are for road traffic offending and one was under the casual trading act.