A business charged with laundering the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery should be acquitted after his defence team claimed yesterday the prosecution had fundamentally failed to prove the £3m seized came from the Belfast robbery.
The claim came as the 10-week Cork Circuit Criminal Court trial of Timothy ‘Ted’ Cunningham (60) entered its final stages with the jury set to be put in charge later this week.
Mr Cunningham of Farran, Co Cork denies a total of 10 charges of laundering the proceeds of the Northern Bank robbery in December 2004.
Defence counsel, Ciaran O’Loughlin SC, claimed yesterday in his closing argument that the 10-week trial was “bizarre” in the manner in which former Bank of Scotland (Ireland) boss, Phil Flynn, |repeatedly became “the elephant in the room.”
Mr O’Loughlin said that |despite senior Gardai insisting to the trial that Mr Flynn — who is a director of Ted Cunningham’s firm, Chesterton Finance — was of no interest to them, the prosecution repeatedly raised questions about him.
“Why was the prosecution so fascinated with Phil Flynn during the trial? What was the purpose of that? What does Mr Phil Flynn have to do with this case at all?” he questioned.
“Is it being said he (Phil Flynn) is a notorious scumbag and if he is a scumbag Mr Ted Cunningham must be a money-launderer?”
“There is not a single shred of evidence about Mr Flynn — but he is like the elephant in the room,” Mr O’Loughlin added.
He claimed the prosecution case over the 41-day trial was “fundamentally undermined” by the State’s failure to prove that the money seized from Mr Cunningham actually came from the Northern Bank.
“It is manifestly incorrect (to say) the money can be traced back to the Northern Bank,” he said.
Mr O’Loughlin said that |Gardai had sneered at Mr |Cunningham’s explanation that he got the money from three Bulgarian businessmen — and dismissed it as nothing but “a figment of the imagination.”
But he pointed out that a substantial portion of the cash was received by Mr Cunningham in October 2004 — more than two months before the Northern Bank robbery actually took place.
Judge Cornelius Murphy will today continue summarising the evidence in the case before putting the jury of seven men and five women in charge to consider their verdict.