Belfast Telegraph

Married ex-IRA bombers given jail terms over Spain cash scam

Donna Maguire and Leonard Hardy in court
Donna Maguire and Leonard Hardy in court

By Fergal MacErlean

Two former IRA bombers have been handed jail sentences following a money laundering trial in Spain.

Leonard 'Bap' Hardy, and his wife Donna Maguire, once dubbed the Angel of Death, were each given a two-year jail term by the National High Court in Madrid.

The pair were found guilty of laundering the profits from "illicit activity" through property purchases in the provinces of Alicante and Malaga between 2005 and 2008 which totalled more than £850,000.

Witness Michael Barret, who led a British customs investigation into a large scale tobacco and alcohol smuggling racket, linked Hardy with illegal activities, the four-day trial in April heard.

Annual earnings of the accused in Spain, UK and Ireland amounted to a total of £25,800, the prosecution said.

Prosecutor Carlos Bautista said an apartment bought in the Costa del Sol town of Nerja was made through a front company, Spanish firm Vinea Import Export, which Hardy's wife controlled as a majority shareholder.

The court has issued a liquidating order for the company.

The three-judge panel led by Carmen Paloma González also handed the pair a fine of £877,218 in the verdict issued on Tuesday and which was released yesterday.

Hardy (57) and Maguire (52) - once Europe's most wanted woman - have a 10-day window to appeal.

They are believed to be at their home in Co Louth.

Their defence lawyer, Luis Casaubon, refused to comment on the sentence.

In court, Hardy spoke angrily of the couple's December 2014 arrest in the Canary Islands which he claimed was carried out at the behest of the British Government.

Spanish police arrested the ex-IRA pair in a Lanzarote hotel, where they were staying with their four children, aged between nine and 17 at the time.

After news of the pair's arrest had emerged, Spain's National Police said in a January 2015 statement: "National Police officers have smashed an organisation involved in smuggling tobacco and alcohol.

"Among those arrested are the organisation's alleged ringleader and his wife, both ex-IRA members."

In 2012, Hardy was arrested at Stansted Airport in Essex with several alleged gang members as part of a British customs probe into illegal sales of cigarettes and alcohol.

His subsequent trial at Kingston Crown Court collapsed in June 2018 as no evidence was presented by the prosecution.

Hardy, from Belfast, was sentenced to six years in jail for trying to blow up a British Army base at Osnabruck, Germany in 1989.

He walked free because the offence happened before the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

His wife was handed a nine-year sentence in Germany in 1995 after being found guilty of attempted murder and explosive offences over the attack.

She was also convicted of spying on military bases but was released because she had spent six years on remand.

Ex-IRA terrorist Maguire had previously described the case against the pair as a "load of nonsense" following her arrest in Lanzarote after flying to the island for a post-Ch ristmas break on December 29, 2014.

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