By NIAMH McPHELIMY
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.
- NIAMH McPHELIMY