Court rules in favour of CAB over seizure of three houses in the West

The owner of three properties in the west of Ireland has failed in his bid to have a High Court ruling that the houses in Co Clare and Limerick were bought with the proceeds of crime struck down.

The Court of Appeal has dismissed the appeal by John McCormack (49) with previous addresses in Shannon, Co Clare; Roxboro, Co Limerick and the Canary Islands and said no good reason had been advanced as to why the High Court judge had erred in the orders made.

Mr Justice Brian Murray who gave the judgment on behalf of the three judge Court of Appeal also said it was his provisional view that having been wholly successful in the appeal the Criminal Assets Bureau(CAB) is entitled to its costs, but this could be contested by Mr McCormack.

In July last year Mr Justice Alexander Owens in the High Court said he was satisfied that Mr McCormack owns residences at Purcell Park, Shannon, and Cloontara West, both in Co Clare, and Claughan Fort in Co Limerick. He noted that Mr McCormack also owned properties in Fuerteventura.

Mr Justice Owens found the acquisitions of the three properties at Purcell Park, Cloontra West and Claughan Fort were funded from the proceeds of crime and said he would make interlocutory orders under S3(1) of the Proceeds of Crime Act 1996 in relation to each of the three properties.

Mr McCormack appealed the decision to the Court of Appeal.

Mr Justice Murray sitting with Mr Justice Seamus Noonan and Mr Justice Michael McGrath said the properties were acquired between 1995 and 2011 and were at the time of the institution of the proceedings unencumbered. It was CAB’s case that during that period Mr McCormack did not have any lawful source of income that would have accounted for his expenditure on these and other assets.

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In the Court of Appeal judgement which was delivered last month and published on Friday ,Mr Justice Murray noted that the High Court judge concluded that the evidence adduced on behalf of CAB established that Mr McCormack “had for many years been involved in serious criminal activity, that the nature of that activity was such that it was likely he gained financially from it and that the income generated was likely to have been the source of the funds with which each of the properties was acquired”.

Gardaí, the judge said had attested to their belief that the properties in question had been acquired with the proceeds of crime.

Mr Justice Murray said one detective sergeant said from confidential sources he knew Mr McCormack “to be one of the biggest suppliers of illegal drugs based in the mid west of Ireland and that, with others he had been responsible for the importation into Ireland of vast quantities of drugs since the late 1990s.”

The Court of Appeal noted the High Court judge was careful to address each aspect of the acquisition of the properties and reject Mr McCormack’s explanations

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