Monday, 22 March 1999

Ex-tax chief met `The Monk'

Irish Independent


Monday March 22 1999
A FORMER tax official whose wife was murdered in mysterious circumstances six years ago has confirmed he had meetings with gang boss Gerry Hutch. A FORMER tax official whose wife was murdered in mysterious circumstances six years ago has confirmed he had meetings with gang boss Gerry Hutch.

James Livingstone is reported to have met the leading Dublin criminal known as `The Monk' three times over the past two years.

But the former tax inspector has denied claims he ever acted as a tax adviser to Hutch, who is fighting a £2m tax bill from the Criminal Assets Bureau. He said the meetings were arranged after he learned that Hutch had ordered surveillance on him, and he wanted to gain information about the unsolved murder of his wife Grace in December 1992.

``I did not, and do not and will not act as a tax adviser to The Monk or any other person whose tax affairs I was acquainted with while I worked for the Revenue,'' he is reported to have said.

He found out about the surveillance from newspaper reports which revealed that video footage of him had been recovered in a raid on Hutch's home in Clontarf in 1997.

The video tape was recovered along with a copy of the Crimeline report into the investigation of the murder of Mrs Livingstone, who was found shot dead in the bedroom of her Malahide home.

Mr Livingstone is currently suing the State over the handling of the investigation into his wife's murder.

He was arrested by gardai during the inquiry but freed without charge.


Saturday, 13 March 1999

Judge jails Englishman over £5m heroin haul

Irish Independent


Saturday March 13 1999
AN ENGLISHMAN who imported £5m worth of heroin on behalf of a major Dublin drugs organisation has been jailed for six years.Robert Russell and his former business partner, Gary Blake, had made nine or ten previous trips on behalf of the west Dublin gang since February 1998. They were both offered a fee of £2,500 and £500 expenses for the job.

Russell (33) of Glenhurst Cresent, Manchester and Blake of Copster Hill, Oldham, Manchester pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to importing 18.5kg of heroin on October 31, 1998.

Blake had his sentence adjourned to March 24 next to enable a psychological report to be prepared.

Detective Sergeant Gregory Sheehan told prosecuting counsel Fergal Foley BL that Russell was one of four people who came to Dun Laoghaire on the ferry with two hired Ford Mondeo cars. Gardai arrested them at the Royal Marine hotel and recovered 18.5kg of heroin with a street value of £5m.

The heroin was concealed in the lining of the rear-door panel of both cars. A total of 20 packets of heroin were found in one car and 18 in the other.

Russell and Blake were accompanied by their girlfriends, Joanna Schofield (30), of Glenhurst Cresent and Cheryl Hume (20), of Copster Place, Oldham, Manchester. The women have also pleaded guilty to the same charge and been remanded on bail for sentence on October 20 next.

Det Sgt Sheehan said the girlfriends were used as a form of camouflage during the operation and were aware something was going on but didn't understand the scale of the operation.

Both men had become involved in importing the heroin after getting into financial difficulties with a sandblasting business they had started in Manchester. Russell has three minor previous convictions.

Defence counsel Barry White SC (with Martina Baxter BL) asked Judge Catherine Dunne to consider that Russell had a difficult upbringing and his brothers had fallen by the wayside. He left school at an early age and since then had always done his best to keep employment in various jobs to help support his mother.

Mr White asked Judge Dunne to read testimonials submitted on behalf of Russell and his partner, Ms Schofield. He said Russell pleaded guilty at the first available opportunity and had met this case in a frank fashion. The court shouldn't leave him without hope and ``should leave him some light at the end of the tunnel'', by allowing him to return to England before his daughter was too old.

Mr White said a prison sentence for Russell would be more difficult for an Englishman as he would not be visited by his family. He was already in the separation unit of Mountjoy where there was no recreational facility.

Judge Dunne said the tragedy caused by drugs was unveiled daily in the courts, where most of the crime was caused by drugs. There was also the tragedy of so many destroyed and lost lives as a result of heroin. Russell became involved on his own admission to make money.

``The Russells of this world make it possible for the masters involved to survive and prosper and it would send out the wrong signal if the court didn't impose a long sentence,'' she said.

Judge Dunne noted Russell was working in prison to improve himself and a testimonial had also been received from the prison assistant governor. She would review the sentence in October 2001.


Tuesday, 2 March 1999

Sentence put back on Gilligan drug gang `cashiers'

Irish Indepedent


Tuesday March 02 1999
FOUR people who counted drugs cash for the John Gilligan crime gang have been remanded in custody again for sentence after Judge Dominic Lynch heard details of their statements to gardai. FOUR people who counted drugs cash for the John Gilligan crime gang have been remanded in custody again for sentence after Judge Dominic Lynch heard details of their statements to gardai.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court was told that a couple and their daughter were hired by drug gang `accounts clerk' Russell Warren to count large bags of cash.

The operation, in which more than £1.5m was counted by them, began two days after journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered and ended when gardai raided their home in September 1996. They were paid sums of £50 and £25 for each counting session and claimed they had saved up to £600 each in a credit union as a result.

Russell Warren has been given a five-year jail term for money laundering and is under the Witness Protection Programme.

Judge Lynch said he needed time to assess the evidence and adjourned sentencing to this Thursday.


Yvette and Patrick Warren (both 69), and Nicola Warren (26) pleaded guilty to handling money they knew was the proceeds of drug trafficking or other crimes, at their home in Heatherview Lane, Tallaght in 1996.

Nicola Warren's husband, Brian Cummins (26), of Clonfert Road, Crumlin, also pleaded guilty to handling more than £10,000 on behalf of the Gilligan gang.

Patrick Warren told gardai that Russell claimed the money was for cigarettes and tobacco. It wasn't until later he realised the money was for John Gilligan after he became suspicious that the counting was going on for too long and he never saw any cigarettes.

He said his son would ask them to count one or two plastic bags he would leave on the stairs and return in a couple of hours when they had finished counting. He said he would bring bundles of money into the house twice weekly.

Two yellow notepads were kept in the refrigerator containing the values of money counted. No other records were kept.

Patrick Warren said he was married for 49 years and never spent a night apart from his wife. ``I am disgusted he got me and my wife in this position,'' he told gardai.

Yvette Warren said she didn't know where her son collected the money from but knew it was from different men. She said millions of pounds must have been counted in the house and said she had counted £70,000-£100,00 per week since June of that year. Russell indicated to the family that people were getting shot if anything was said. She had asked her son if he had anything to do with shooting and he replied, ``no''.

Paul O'Higgins SC, defending, asked Judge Lynch to consider the accused persons had admitted their guilt and weren't actually charged until two years later, resulting in the matter weighing heavily on them.


Monday, 1 March 1999

Garda unit smashes top heroin gang cash racket

Irish Independent


Monday March 01 1999
GARDAI have smashed the money laundering operation of a gang reputed to be the biggest heroin suppliers to this country. The gang is believed to have been importing heroin worth about £1m a month for the past two years.The massive money spinning racket was masterminded by a young criminal, originally from Ballyfermot in Dublin, after he moved base to Manchester and set up an operation there.

The latest breakthrough for the Gardai came at the weekend with the arrest of a man suspected of taking the proceeds from the monthly shipments across the Border, converting the punts to sterling and then shifting the cash to Manchester.

The arrest followed a joint investigation by the Garda national drugs unit and the Manchester police major crime unit into the gang's activities over the past six months.


Gardai, led by Det Chief Supt Ted Murphy, moved in on the gang initially last September after keeping a watch for almost a week on a £7m heroin consignment buried on land near Balbriggan in north Dublin.

That seizure led to a major crackdown by the two police forces, culminating in the joint seizure of heroin worth £25m in four hauls here and in Britain and a firearms find in Manchester.

The weekend suspect, a builder in his 50s and originally from Co Mayo, was detained by detectives in Balbriggan and was also questioned about his alleged role in the importation of several heroin shipments.

As a result of the garda seizures, the price of heroin on the streets of the capital has jumped from £10 to £16 a deal because of the shortage of supply for addicts.


Gardai believe that the Ballyfermot criminals had very few links with more established drug trafficking gangs before setting up their headquarters in Manchester but quickly became the main suppliers of heroin to Dublin in the past two years.

Meanwhile in a separate operation at the weekend, detectives from the Garda national drugs unit smashed a cannabis importation route from Britain to Limerick.

A British courier was stopped by detectives at Dublin Airport where he was due to have been met and brought by limousine to Limerick.

As a result of the operation detectives seized cannabis worth about £200,000 on the streets.

* Gardai seized ecstasy tablets and cash in a raid on a flat in the centre of Tullamore early yesterday. Five gardai took possession of 200 ecstasy tablets worth £2,000 in the 3.40am raid. Two men were arrested. A large number of people were in the flat when gardai arrived.