Kinahan as sociates lose legal aid bid to fight for cars and watches
The High Court has dismissed applications by six people linked to the Kinahan crime organisation, including the parents of murdered mobster David Byrne, to have their legal costs covered in proceedings against the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB).
The judge said the individuals' lavish lifestyles, including owning expensive jewellery and taking multiple trips to Spain, Dubai and Las Vegas, had not been addressed by the applicants in their submissions to the court.
The CAB had previously secured court orders freezing assets it said were the proceeds of crime, including a watch worth €35,000, property, motorbikes, cars and SUVs following raids carried out as part of its investigation into the Kinahan gang at various locations in March last year.
Arising out of those seizures, the CAB has brought proceedings against 11 people, including Liam Byrne, who the bureau says is a member of the Kinahan mob. Byrne's brother, David, was shot dead at the Regency Hotel in February last year.
In a pre-hearing motion, lawyers representing six of the 11 individuals applied to the High Court to have their costs of hiring lawyers paid for by the State under the legal aid scheme.
The applications, which were made on behalf of Kelly Quinn, Sean McGovern, Anita Freeman, Liam Byrne's parents James and Sadie Byrne, and Liam Roe, who denied the assets were the proceeds of crime, were opposed by the CAB.
Ms Justice Carmel Stewart yesterday dismissed all six applications for legal aid.
McGovern, of Captains Road, Crumlin, was shot in the stomach when his best pal David Byrne was killed at the Regency Hotel on February 5, 2016.
Roe, a cousin of Liam and David Byrne, survived an assassination attempt in November 2015 when the hitman's gun jammed as he tried to shoot the Kinahan associate at a boxing event at the Red Cow Inn.
Roe was outside having a cigarette when the gunman approached.
Giving the court's decision, Judge Stewart said she was refusing the applications on grounds including that no exceptional circumstances existed to allow the court to grant any of them legal aid.
The court said evidence tendered by the CAB about the applicants' lifestyles, including that some of them had taken multiple flights to destinations including Spain, Dubai and Las Vegas, or how other assets were acquired, had not been addressed in their submissions.
In addition, the applicants had not engaged with claims from the CAB about access they might have had to funds in the past.
In all the circumstances, the interests of justice did not require the court to admit any of the applicants to the legal aid scheme, the judge said.
She said she would furnish her written decision at a later date before adjourning the proceedings against all 11 individuals to a date later this month.
None of the parties seeking legal aid were present in court.
They had claimed they could not afford to pay lawyers to represent them in what will be a lengthy and complex case.
Ms Quinn, an unemployed mother-of-two and the partner of the late David Byrne, claims a sum of almost €8,000 seized by the gardai following a search of her home in Kildare Road, Crumlin, was not the proceeds of crime and should be returned to her.
She says the money came from "a whip-round" by friends following her partner's death.
David Byrne's mother, Sadie Byrne, of Raleigh Square, Crumlin, rejects the CAB's claim that an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak watch worth an estimated €12,500 that belonged to her late son and a Lexus SUV were the proceeds of crime. Both were seized by the CAB.
Her husband, James Byrne, also of Raleigh Square, Crumlin, is seeking the return of a Rolex Oyster Perpetual watch worth €35,000 that was seized by gardai from his home.
James Byrne said in his affidavit that his only source of income was his old age pension and denied the watch was the proceeds of crime.
Liam Roe, of Mangerton Road, Drimnagh, is seeking the return of an Audi A5 car and a Kawasaki motorbike worth a total of €38,000 that were seized by the CAB.
Roe denies he is a member of any organised crime gang and says he is not in receipt of any income or social welfare, has no assets other than ones that were seized and receives funding from his father.
Last week the CAB said its investigations had revealed that Roe travelled to the US, UK and Spain on six occasions between July 2015 and July 2016.
He also attended the Conor McGregor-Chad Mendes fight in Las Vegas in July 2015.
Neither the fight nor the flight tickets were paid through any known account in the name of Roe.
Sean McGovern sought legal aid to contest the CAB's claims that the couple's "de facto family home" at Kildare Road, Crumlin, was the proceeds of crime.
His partner, Anita Freeman, claims that a BMW car worth €23,000 seized by the CAB was not the proceeds of crime.
McGovern says he has no other assets aside from the property.
The couple and their two young children are living off allowances and benefits from the State and a redundancy payout.