Jurors in the case of a businessman charged with laundering money from the Northern Bank robbery have to examine whether they can accept as credible his claim he got millions in sterling from Bulgarians who were buying a sand pit in Offaly.
They will have to do so in the knowledge that there isn’t a shred of paper evidence to support the claim, a court heard yesterday.
Ted Cunningham (60) of Woodbine Lodge, Farran, Co Cork, denies 20 charges of money laundering, including one of possessing £3,010,380 at Farran between December 20, 2004 and February 16, 2005, knowing or believing it to be the proceeds of robbery at the Northern Bank cash centre in Belfast.
Continuing the prosecution summing up of the case yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court, prosecution senior counsel, Marjorie Farrelly, said Mr Cunningham’s explanation of events led to several obvious questions.
“You have to examine whether the story of three million sterling coming from Bulgarians is credible. Why didn’t the Bulgarians lodge it (this money) in the bank if they were anxious to get it to Mr Cunningham. Why not by bank giro? You have to consider what is the likelihood of Bulgarians having access to large quantities of Northern Irish sterling.”
Ms Farrelly said the defendant had complained during his trial about his alleged treatment in the Bridewell Garda Station, comparing it to Guantanamo Bay. “He is saying that despite knowing he is entirely innocent he would go along with a version that suggests otherwise and that it was better to go along with that version as the consequences would be better than sticking to the truth.”
Ms Farrelly concluded her summary of the evidence heard over the last 40 days shortly before lunchtime yesterday.
The seven men and five women on the jury have been asked to consider whether they are satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that the Northern Bank was robbed on December 2004 and that the £2.3m found in Ted Cunningham’s basement was part of the raiders haul.
During the course of the trial, Ted Cunningham said he received the £2.3m found in his house in Farran on February 17, 2005 from Bulgarian businessmen in six different deliveries between October 2004 and February 2005.
He said he received the first payment of £800,000 in the church car park near his home at Farran in October 2004, and a second payment of £200,000 at the Blarney Park Hotel in early December 2004.
The accused claimed he received four more payments of £500,000 at the Clonmore Hotel in Tullamore, Co Offaly on January 17 2005, the Ardboyne Hotel in Navan, Co Meath on January 21 2005 and two payments at Tullybeg Nursing Home at Rahan, Co Offaly in February.
However, the prosecution has repeatedly stated that this evidence was at odds with the statement made by Mr Cunningham to detectives who arrested and interviewed him on February 17, 2005 when he told them that he had received all £2.3m found at his house in one delivery in October 2004.
The case continues before a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court this morning when defence submissions are expected to get under way.