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Saturday 25 November 2017

Cartel kingpins fight to hold on to €500k of cars and jewellery

Gardai and CAB officials seizing some of the top-of-the-range cars in Dublin last March
Gardai and CAB officials seizing some of the top-of-the-range cars in Dublin last March

The kingpins of the Kinahan cartel are fighting to hold on to more than €500,000 of luxury cars and jewellery seized from them by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) in a series of high-profile raids last year.

The flash motors and bling were confiscated from Crumlin man Liam Byrne and his associates on March 9 last year, when CAB officers, backed up by armed gardai, raided a number of homes and car dealerships.

Ten out of the 11 houses raided were in an extended south city area stretching out from Raleigh Square in Crumlin, while the other home, which was linked to a pub, was located in the north inner city.

The raids occurred just weeks after the murder of Byrne's brother David in the Regency Hotel, Drumcondra - the event that sparked a massive escalation in the murderous feud between the Kinahan and Hutch factions.

Almost 30 top-of-the-range cars and six motorcycles were loaded on to car transporters in the CAB raids, while jewellery and expensive Rolex watches - with a total value estimated to be well in excess of €1m - were seized, as well as €100,000 in cash.

Yesterday the CAB went to the High Court to try to seek its permission to sell off the cars and bikes, which are currently being stored at an army camp.

At the time they were seized, the cars and bikes were worth a collective €660,000. They are now worth an estimated €550,000.

Judge Carmel Stewart heard the application by the CAB to lift an order putting a stay on the sale of the vehicles.

Asset

Council for the CAB, Remy Farrell, told the court that the vehicles had depreciated by €111,000 since they were seized and the CAB was seeking to sell them now as they are an asset that is falling in value.

He proposed that any cash from the vehicle sales could be held secure pending the outcome of proceedings by the CAB against Byrne and his associates.

Mr Farrell argued that the vehicles were not of sentimental value but being used as currency and being made available to people.

Separate barristers for Byrne and his associates made applications to have the stay on the sale of the cars adjourned as they had not received instructions from their clients on the matter.

Judge Stewart adjourned the case to March 20 to allow "specific applications be made by specific individuals in respect of specific vehicles".

Applications for legal aid will be heard on April 24.

The list of names the CAB is targeting in its quest to seize the ill-gotten gains of crime includes some high-profile criminals operating in the city:

1. Liam Byrne is one of the cartel's most senior Irish figures. Before the feud erupted, Byrne would regularly be spotted driving luxurious cars and socialising in Dublin 2 and Dublin 12.

However, he has since kept a much lower profile over fears that he could be targeted by the Hutch gang.

He has convictions for firearms offences and assault.

2. James 'Jaws' Byrne, the veteran criminal who is father of David and Liam. He has convictions for assault and armed robbery. He recently had to pay a large bill tax bill to the CAB based on his criminal activities.

3. Liam Roe, who was nearly an early casualty of the Kinahan/Hutch feud when an attempt was made to kill him at a boxing event in a west Dublin hotel in November 2015.

He survived when the gun jammed and failed to fire. He is a cousin of David Byrne.

4. Sean McGovern, the Crumlin man who is a close associate of Liam Byrne. They set up the LS Active car business that was raided by the CAB and from which many of the cars seized last March were taken. McGovern was also shot and injured in the Regency attack.

McGovern was arrested in Manchester in 2012 alongside Liam Byrne and Liam Roe for threatening a businessman.

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