Two homes, including a former rental property, businesses and luxury cars of a convicted felon and his wife have been declared proceeds of crime by the High Court.
Tefan Saunders (45) of Carranstown, Drogheda Road, Duleek, Co Meath, was jailed in 2018 for seven and a half years after gardaí foiled an armed robbery in transit in 2016.
He is also suspected by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) of involvement in the theft of £2.8million from the Brinks Allied security van in Artane, Dublin in 2005.
The judge concluded that the proceeds of crime had been used to buy a house in Hazelbury Park, Dublin 15, and a second rental property in Mayestown Lawn, Finglas, Dublin, as well as to fund a number of businesses and buy properties expensive cars. , including a €98,000 BMW X5.
The couple spent around £120,000 expanding Hazelbury, which included expensive plumbing fixtures, furniture, projection screens and a hot tub, the court heard.
Judge Alexander Owens was convinced Saunders was a member of a robbery gang who financed a “spending spree” on these assets by himself and his wife Tammy Saunders (40) between 2005 and 2008.
He said that between 2003 and 2006 the couple had “access to sums of money grossly out of step with possible legitimate sources of income”.
The “spending spree”, which included the complete renovation of both properties, came from funds that can only be explained by reference to access to the proceeds of crime, he said.
Saunders, who said he worked as a plasterer, and his wife Tammy, who earned a salary from an interior decorating business they owned, denied the assets were the proceeds of crime. They ran into financial difficulties in 2010 and subsequently entered into a personal insolvency agreement which led to the property being sold for rent.
The judge said their evidence as to the source of their money was “broad and unconvincing”.
Their affidavit testimony did not address the details of the evidence presented on the criminal activities of Stefan Saunders or the details of the evidence of CAB, which was seeking the proceeds of crime.
The judge accepted the conclusion of a CAB forensic accountant that their expenses did not match their identified legitimate sources of income. The spending spree could not be explained as a mix of legitimate income from businesses or jobs and easy access to cheap sources of credit, he said.
The evidence established that other factors were at play, he said.
After the Brinks Allied robbery, four unregistered cell phones used in the robbery were found, one of which was in contact with a former girlfriend of Stefan Saunders. Documents from a motorbike imported and used by him, but registered in another man’s name, were found during a search in Hazelbury Park.
“The evidence of Stefan Saunders’ later criminal career leads to the inevitable conclusion that his association with the robbery of the Brinks allies at Artane cannot be explained as an unfortunate coincidence,” he said.
In January 2010, Saunders was linked to the abduction by a tiger of a cash-in-transit van employee in Dublin via a vehicle he owned which was used to restrain the victim.
He was also caught by the gardaí in suspicious circumstances, once outside the home of a bank manager in Bray, and on another occasion in a vehicle containing burglary tools. He was also spotted at Heathrow Airport in May 2016 in a blacked-out vehicle parked near a cargo plane used to transport cash.
In October 2016 he was caught with two other people in an attempted theft of a cash van in Dunboyne, County Meath, for which he was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.
The judge said ‘money from unidentified sources’ was used to provide working capital for the interior design business Tammy worked for, U Design of Berkeley Road, Dublin, which was set up in June 2005.
Money from unidentified sources was used to open and operate hair salons in Berkeley Road and Meakstown, near Finglas, he said.
The money from unidentified sources was used to renovate a house owned by Tammy Saunders’ mother and her partner in 2006.
The source of the €17,500 bail that Tammy Sanders’ mother posted in November 2006 for Stefan, while he was in court on a drug charge that was later dropped, has also not been identified. .