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Two men caught with stolen cash in Dublin field sentenced

Two members of an organised crime group caught with stolen cash in a field in Dublin have been sentenced.

A garda helicopter captured footage of three men, described in court as members of the Wall organised crime group, digging up almost €80,000 buried in coffee jars in Rathcoole in 2020.

The court was told that gardaí believe that the cash dug up by brothers Michael, 30, Thomas, 39, and 20-year-old Patrick Wall using shovels and a mini digger came from burglaries.

Bottles of Lucozade and packets of Monster Munch crisps, which Patrick Wall had earlier been captured on CCTV footage buying in a nearby service station, were also found in the hole.

The court heard the brothers began digging after becoming aware the landowner was carrying out works at the location.

They had approached local businesses earlier in the day to inquire about the works and ask that they be stopped.

Michael Wall, of Fortunestown Lane in Tallaght, and Thomas and Patrick Wall, both of Fortunestown Crescent, Tallaght, were initially charged with money laundering offences but guilty pleas to possession of stolen property were accepted by the Director of Public Prosecutions.

At Dublin Circuit Criminal Court, Judge Orla Crowe set headline sentences of two years in relation to Michael and Thomas Wall and imposed sentences of 18 months on both men.

She noted they were married with children and took into account their personal circumstances.

The judge gave Thomas Wall credit for the 12 months he has already served in custody.

She noted that Michael Wall had no prior convictions at the time of the offence and suspended his sentence in full.

The case of Patrick Wall was adjourned to May for finalisation of a probation report.

Garda work on case praised by judge

Judge Crowe commended the work of the gardai on the case.

Detective Garda Kate Gilligan, of the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau, told the court the offending took place on 14 August 2020 in a field at Keatings Park, Rathcoole.

She said the location was beside the N7, close to an Applegreen service station.

Gardaí were in receipt of confidential information that the Wall group was seeking to recover a large amount of cash buried in the field.

An operation was put in place and, at 3pm, the Garda helicopter observed a number of people at the location digging in a specific area. Footage was recorded and the helicopter returned to Baldonnell.

Gardaí, who had known members of the Wall family for a significant time, identified the three men in the footage.

The helicopter returned to the scene where it observed a mini digger had arrived, with five people present and a large hole in the field.

Gardaí arrived and recovered four coffee jars containing cash and a fifth smashed jar.

Two of the jars had been placed into a paper Applegreen bag with loose cash and the money was damp, as if it had just been dug up. The total found was €79,000.

The garda investigation revealed that earlier in the day Michael and Thomas Wall had inquired at local businesses about work being carried out on the land and asked that it be stopped.

They were told a local businessman had hired builders to take out hedges and carry out groundworks.

A builder carrying out legitimate work for the previous three weeks on the land was approached by a large group of men who asked what he was doing.

He observed other men using a tape to measure from the fence to a location in the middle of the field where they started digging.

Det Gda Gilligan said the builder later left work and put the digger away. The other men did not have the owner’s permission to be digging on the field.

The three brothers were arrested and each told gardaí they were building fences for horses.

Thomas Wall has 12 previous convictions, while Michael Wall has one previous conviction for a road traffic offence. Patrick Wall has no previous convictions.

Barry Ward BL, defending Thomas Wall, said his client is married with three children. He handed in a number of letters on his behalf from people in his community. He said he has been using his time in custody productively.

Mr Ward said his client was a family man who had a difficult life up to now but had a supportive family and people who were concerned for him.

Delia Flynn SC, defending Michael Wall, said he was a married father of three children, one of whom required special care. Letters were handed in relation to the childs needs and supervision.

She said he was very much engaged with his family and had a lot of responsibility and difficulties in his life. She said he was supported by family members.

Padraig Dwyer SC, defending Patrick Wall, said his client was married with no children and had the support of his family. He said this offence occurred when he was a juvenile and in the company of older relatives. He said his client has no issues with drink or drugs.

He asked the court to take into account his early guilty plea and that he was compliant with gardaí.

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