A married couple admitted cashing cheques totalling over €20,000 as the proceeds of crime, a court has heard.
The money was part of a larger sum of over €44,000 which was fraudulently obtained from an elderly woman in Dublin by a purported roofing company.
The woman in her 80s, who lives in Dún Laoghaire, had paid the total sum to a company offering construction and roofing services for significant works on her house. However only minor works were carried out.
Ciaran Heneghan (38), Drumfinn Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin 10, pleaded guilty to cashing two cheques totalling €6,500 in his name at Ulster Bank in Dublin Airport on dates between July and December 2019.
His wife Tracey Heneghan (38), of the same address, admitted cashing three cheques in her name to the total value of €13,000 at Ulster Bank in Dublin Airport on dates between January and March 2020.
The court heard that Ciaran Heneghan was an employee of the company and was asked by his boss to cash cheques in his own and his wife’s name on behalf of the company.
Heneghan was told he would get 10 per cent commission for each of the cheques cashed.
Passing sentence on Thursday, Judge Martin Nolan said Tracey Heneghan had a “very peripheral role” and was just doing what her husband had asked her to do in cashing the cheques.
The judge ordered her to be of good behaviour under Section 100 and adjourned the case until June, when he said he would discharge any sentence against her if she abides by this condition.
However, Judge Nolan handed down a two-year suspended sentence to Ciaran Heneghan and ordered him to repay a total of €6,000 to the elderly woman. The judge said although Heneghan may have not known the precise criminal behaviour of his employer, he probably suspected it.
“When someone offers you 10 per cent of a cheque, you know there’s something dodgy going on,” said the judge.
Garda Graham Carey told Shaun Smith BL, prosecuting, that there was a third accused in the case who was due in court next week.
Gda Carey said the elderly woman was approached by men from the company and agreed to have significant works carried out including shed structure and foundations.
The woman paid over €44,000 but the construction was not carried out and only minor work was done.
A man claiming to be the proprietor of the company then kept phoning the elderly woman with a series of hard luck stories and asking her for more and more cheques, to the point where she had difficulty keeping track of how much she had paid to him and for what, the court heard.
The man said he needed money to buy a house for his four children; that he had diabetes; and on another occasion he said he had hit someone with his van. At one point the woman only had €400 left in her bank account, the court heard.
The man asked the victim to write the names of the Heneghans and the third accused on the cheques as payees.
When gardaí were informed, they collected the cheque stubs and got a warrant to search the Heneghans’ house.
The Heneghans’ passports were seized and Ciaran Heneghan was arrested. He told gardaí he had cashed two cheques for his employer and had been paid 10 per cent commission for each cheque.
Tracey Heneghan, who attended the garda station voluntarily, said she met her husband on the M50 and he gave her three cheques pre-written in her name, which she cashed at Dublin Airport.
Gda Graham confirmed that none of the money has been recovered and a separate investigation is taking place into the roofing company which was not genuine.
Ciaran Heneghan has 32 previous convictions mostly from the District Court, including public order, drugs, and road traffic offences.
Oisín Clarke BL, defending Ciaran Heneghan, said his client now has his own roofing company and is the sole breadwinner for his wife and their four children.
Mr Clarke said Ciaran Heneghan “knew something was amiss” when his employer asked him to cash the cheques, but said he assumed it was something to do with tax purposes and that his employers were avoiding tax.
Mr Clarke said his client is a hardworking man and has worked consistently in construction since leaving school at the age of 15.
Keith Spencer BL, defending Tracey Heneghan, said his client has an “unblemished record” of no previous convictions and did not know anything about her husband getting 10 per cent of the cheques.
The court heard that she told gardaí, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know it was wrong. I didn’t realise that I was going to get into trouble.”
Judge Nolan said Ciaran Heneghan was remorseful for his actions and that his criminal record was not relevant and mostly involved drink.
The judge ordered him to pay over the sum of €2,000 which he had collected to the investigating garda, to be forwarded to the elderly woman within the next two months.
Ciaran Heneghan was further ordered to hand over a further €4,000 to the injured party within the next 15 months, and if she does not want to accept it, to give it to a charity of her choice.
He was also instructed to be of good behaviour for two years.
Tracey Heneghan was told to come back to court on June 8th, and if she has been of good behaviour in the interim, Judge Nolan will discharge her sentence a fortnight later.