Woman caught with luxury items like Chanel handbags and €100,000 in cash will be convicted of money laundering

A young woman caught in possession of luxury items, a high-end car and almost €100,000 in various accounts will later be convicted of money laundering.

Kathleen McDonagh, 21, had luxury items worth €23,715 including two Chanel handbags, Louis Vuitton bags, belts and shoes, Christian Louboutin shoes and two diamond rings when gardaí obtained a warrant to search his house in January 2020.

A premium vehicle, which had been purchased from a Galway dealership with €25,750 in cash in July 2019, was also seized at the time.

Garda Gary Farrell told prosecuting Aideen Collard BL that McDonagh’s home had been searched as part of a wider investigation by Garda and later admitted that she was not the target of that investigation.

McDonagh had been in a relationship with a man who was serving a prison sentence for burglary at the time. He is now in Scotland and is the subject of a European arrest warrant.

During searches of McDonagh’s home on dates in January 2020 and May 2020, gardaí also found details of an AIB bank account, postal account and credit union account in his name.

Further investigation into these accounts revealed that deposits totaling €98,828.88 were made there between March 2018 and December 2019.

McDonagh of Whitechurch Avenue Rathfarnham, Dublin, pleaded guilty before Dublin Circuit Criminal to three counts of money laundering on dates between March 2019 and January 2020. Two other money laundering charges were considered . She has no previous convictions.

Garnet Orange SC, defending, submitted to the court that his client had no role in the predicate offence, but that due to her “apparent good character” she was able to establish the necessary accounts to store and dispose of the proceeds of crime from these predicate offences.

The lawyer asked the court to accept that McDonagh was indeed “a channel”.

Judge Melanie Greally said she was unsure of McDonagh’s culpability in this regard, adding that “she was a direct beneficiary” as the designer goods and the car were used by her.

She said it was a case that warranted an assessment by the probation service before adjourning the sentence until May 4 to allow that assessment to take place. McDonagh was released on bail until that date.

Garda Farrell told Ms Collard there was no evidence to back up how the money was made and that McDonagh’s only source of income at the time was parental loan allowance.

Garda Farrell agreed with Mr. Orange that her client was 17, 18 and 19 during the period covered by the charges.

“Unexplained Assets”

He admitted she was not the person who committed the predicate offenses nor was she the target of the original investigation, but was later identified as someone who had “unexplained assets”.

Garda Farrell further admitted that McDonagh’s father did not approve of her relationship with his partner at the time and that she left the family home against her wishes to live with the man when she was 16.

The garda agreed that McDonagh’s former partner was someone who was involved in criminal activity.

McDonagh is now back with her parents and Garda Farrell has accepted that her father is an honest and decent man who plays a very active role in how his daughter handled these offences.

Mr Orange said his client is a mother of a young child and has “a stable and reliable family network”.

“She found herself in possession of large sums of money. She used that money to buy that property, but I still suggest she didn’t get to the highest level of culpability,” the attorney said, before adding that McDonagh “got carried away by the circumstances “.

He said she did not transfer money from one account to another for the purpose of concealing it as the proceeds of crime and maintained that assets were easily traced and recovered.

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