Sunday, 2 March 2014

HGV Driver Fronted International Money Laundering Ring

"Trusted Courier": Hayden Walker

A Northern Ireland lorry driver, whose regular continental route was a front for laundering over £200,000 in criminal cash, was jailed for eighteen months on Friday.

Anthony Robert McDermott, 50, of Knockadore, Newtownbutler, Enniskillen, County Fermanagh and his two co-conspirators were under police observation as they laundered money, which came from various criminal sources.

He pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court to conspiring to transfer criminal property, namely £17,490 and €116,000, between August 31 and October 28, 2012.

Convicted ecstasy dealer Sean Michael Tossell, 46, of Elm House, Holmesdale Road, Teddington, Middlesex and Hayden John Walker, 42, of Queenswood Avenue, Wallington, Croydon also admitted the same count.

McDermott alone also pleaded guilty to possessing criminal property, namely £100,100, on October 27, 2012 at Colchester Services on the A12, Essex.

Tossell received twenty-one months imprisonment and Walker was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for eighteen months.

Prosecutor Mr. Bill McGivern told the court: “McDermott was to take all the criminal property out of the country.

“It was sterling and euros and came from three different criminal sources.”

The court heard that once a week McDermott drove his HGV to Dublin and then crossed on the ferry to Holyhead before driving across the UK to Harwich port.

Police launched a surveillance operation and quickly established a link between McDermott and Tossell, who had just been released from a ten-year prison sentence.

They watched as the driver met Walker on September 1, 2012.

“Walker was seen to pass McDermott an object he took to his truck,” explained Mr. McGivern, telling the court officers moved in during a second such rendezvous on October 27.

“Walker arrived in a car and McDermott was in his truck and he took possession of a green Marks and Spencer carrier bag, which he placed behind his seat and was then arrested.”

Inside the bag, which had Walker's fingerprint on it, officers found £17,490 cash and €116,000, which McDermott claimed was to buy cigarettes in Holland.

Inside his cab was a Budweiser box containing another £100,100 cash in heat-sealed bags similar to those seen in other money laundering seizures.

Walker was also arrested and tried to hide his mobile phone inside his half-eaten sandwich.

When quizzed McDermott claimed he was contacted by a man known as 'Chelsea' and had taken “five or six” packages to the continent.

CCTV confirmed he collected the Budweiser box package earlier in the day at services in the Birmingham area.

His pay-as-you-go mobile phone had been purchased by Tossell and topped-up by him and officers realised the arrested men were being directed via two different phones.

“He was directing their movements at arms length,” added Mr. McGivern. “Tosell was the organiser, McDermott played a significant role and was the key man in moving money to the continent and Walker was a trusted courier involved in the delivery of money.”

However, Walker claims his involvement was limited to those two occasions and he was paid £200 each time, only knowing it was cash during the second trip.

“I was not aware of what was in the first package, but I could see the second packet contained cash, which I thought was suspicious,” Walker stated in his basis of plea.

“I have no knowledge of where the money came from or where it was going.”

McDermott's lawyer Mr. John Livingston told the court: “He has flagged up his guilt from the earliest stage and he made full admissions in interview.

“Essentially he is a courier transporting money. He did not know what it was for or how much it was.”

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