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Man who pleaded guilty to drugs crime says seized money was from football bets

He applied for the money to be returned.
Feb 20th 2016, 6:45 AM 17,382 21

A NEWBRIDGE RESIDENT who has pleaded guilty to being an accessory in a €160,000 cannabis growhouse has applied to the state for the return of thousands of euros seized from him by a county Kildare detective.

At Naas District Court yesterday, Piotr Perucki, Kilbelan, Newbridge, brought an application to the state to return €3,745 that was seized at Moorefield, Newbridge, on 14 October 2015.

Perucki argued that the money had been won following two bets on 13 October 2015. The court heard how he had bet €1,000 on a soccer game and won €2,900.

On another bet for the same game he had put on €1,200 and won €4,000.

Defence solicitor Matt Byrne denied that Perucki’s money, seized by Detective Seamus Doyle, was from the proceeds of drugs and was instead from two wins. The two betting slips from 13 October 2015 were shown to the court.

Prosecuting Inspector Mel Smith outlined how Perucki had pleaded guilty to being an ‘accessory’ (cultivating) in a Newbridge cannabis growhouse worth €160,000. The case is due to be heard in the Circuit Court soon.

The defence outlined how Perucki is employed as a painter and decorator who operates as a sole trader. In court Perucki, who has one child, said that he pays €750 per month on rent. He resides with his girlfriend who works part-time and receives social welfare.

Prosecuting Inspector Mel Smith asked the accused how much he spends on groceries per month, what type of car he drives and how much it costs to run.

While Perucki said that the cost of groceries varies from month to month, he outlined to the court how he drives a ‘06 Skoda which costs approximately €200 per month to run on petrol.

When asked by Inspector Smith how much spare money he has at the end of the month, the response was about €1,000.

Inspector Smith said:

You have enough to gamble €1,000 on a match. I would put it to you that you drive an Audi A5 valued at €16,000.

Perucki denied that the Audi A5 belongs to him and said, “It is not my car, it is my friend’s car.”

Inspector Smith said: “I would put it to you that this car is linked to the co-accused involved in the growhouse.”

Perucki said that while he is on the insurance, it is not his car. Defence said that Perucki has pleaded guilty to cultivating but not guilty to sale and supply.

Evidence was given by Garda David Farraher that on 4 August 2015, he stopped Perucki at LiffeyHall, Newbridge, at approximately 8.15pm.

Garda Farraher said in court said: “ I could see an envelope with a large thick wad of cash.

The garda outlined how Perucki said that as a painter and decorator, he does not have a bank account and carries a lot of cash with him all the time.

He told me that there was €17,000. He gave me a hardback journal showing me the work he had carried out as a painter and decorator.

Garda Farraher did not seize the cash and did not count the cash. Defence argues that there was €10,700, not €17,000.

He said: “It seemed unusual that there was so much cash, but I had no reason to doubt it at the time. He told me how much there was, I did not count it.”

The garda told the court how he subsequently contact Detective Garda Seamus Doyle as he believed the amount of cash was ‘unusual’.

In court, Detective Doyle outlined how on 21 February 2014, he discovered a growhouse at Schoolane, Newbridge, and that Perucki had pleaded guilty to being an ‘accessory’.

Detective Doyle said: “Since February 2014, the drugs unit has been monitoring an Eastern European gang involved in the sale and supply of drugs in Newbridge. On the night in question I stopped him, he was driving erratically.

There were no drugs found, he showed me betting slips and cash. I was led to believe that he was laundering money. I seized the cash as I believe it is the proceeds of drug dealing.

The detective outlined to the court how Perucki is driving an Audi A5 the ‘whole time’ and how it is always parked outside his apartment.

He said: “I have never seen anyone else drive this car. It just does not add up, he is placing large bets. He is the best-dressed painter.”

Defence said: “If you believe this money is the proceeds of crime, what have you done about it? Why are you retaining the money?”

Detective Doyle said that they are making ‘inquiries’.

He added: “Betting slips are known as a common way of laundering money. Since the Criminal Assets Bureau, it has become the practice.”

As a summary, the defence argued that the state has been given ‘ample time’ to investigate and that there is ‘no reason’ not to return the money to Perucki.

Defence said: “Following the seizure in October, there have been no arrests. As of today, there are no charges.”

Prosecution added: “Perucki is laundering money, it is the proceeds of crime, he is placing a large number of bets.”

Judge Desmond Zaidan ordered that the return of the cash is ‘unsustainable’. Perucki was given leave to appeal.

More: Waterford coach jailed for sex abuse was ‘a beast’ and ‘an animal’, say victims

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Louise McCarthy

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