Woman living ‘exotic’ lifestyle given four months to vacate home bought with crime proceeds

Judge says ‘not a scratch of information’ exists to explain how Mary Cash came to afford ‘various items of bling’ through lawful earnings

A woman described as living an “exotic” lifestyle has been given about four months to vacate her family home in Portlaoise which was found to have been purchased with crime proceeds.

The court heard the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) has a “significant concern” that Mary Cash’s home at Harpur’s Lane in the town is uninsured.

Shelley Horan, for the Cab, said it would be difficult for Ms Cash to secure cover for the property given the High Court and Court of Appeal have found it was purchased with crime proceeds.

Adrian O’Higgins, representing Ms Cash, said his client lives in the home with her three young children, two of whom are in primary school.


Cab officers have inspected the property at various stages and there has been no sign of damage. He submitted that there is “no evidence” of any danger to the property.

Mr Justice Alexander Owens noted the only entity with an “insurable interest” is the Cab. He said he has “a lot of sympathy” for Ms Cash and her family and noted they will probably want to find a new home in the same area as the children’s schools.

After asking when primary school holidays occur, he gave them until August 31st to sort out their affairs. He said that failure to vacate by that date would be contempt of a court order.

The judge made an order permitting a bureau-nominated receiver to take possession of the home on September 2nd with the power of sale.

The Court of Appeal in January said Ms Cash (32), nee Kiely, offered “no convincing explanation” for the source of funds to buy the property. The High Court had found a “singular lack of engagement” by her with the Cab evidence and her excuses to be “totally unpersuasive”.

In its case brought under the Proceeds of Crime Act, the Cab alleged Ms Cash’s home was purchased mortgage-free in 2018 with proceeds derived from burglaries allegedly carried out by her husband, Andrew Cash, and her brother, Henry Kiely, neither of whom was subject to the Cab proceedings.

Ms Cash has described herself as a lone parent who is separated from her husband but that is disputed by the Cab, the appeal court noted.

The bureau secured High Court orders last July declaring her home and other property including a Volkswagen Golf car, jewellery and handbags, represented, directly or indirectly, the proceeds of crime.

The Cab claimed the house purchase was funded by a large volume of lodgements between August and October 2018 when the account balance was some €100,000.

Ms Cash argued her home was bought with monies earned from her work as a cleaner, childminder and escort while she was in Australia with her husband in 2015. Her lawyers said she used cash daily, which is not illegal.

The judge found her “half explanations” for the source of funds to buy the house and luxury goods “simply did not hold water”. He found, on the balance of probabilities, that the home and other assets represented the direct or indirect proceeds of crime and made orders freezing them.

He had earlier made similar orders regarding three cash seizures, totalling €27,000, on account of Ms Cash pleading guilty at Kilkenny Circuit Court last year to related charges of money laundering for which she received a suspended sentence.

The judge said the Cash family led an “exotic lifestyle” involving a lot of discretionary spending and there was “not a scratch of information” to explain how she came to afford through lawful earnings so many handbags and “various items of bling”.

Neither was there any real explanation for how they came up with some €100,000 to purchase their home and the subsequent sums spent renovating it, he said. Ms Cash unsuccessfully appealed the High Court finding that her home represented crime proceeds, either directly or indirectly.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter