Robbery gang member fails to convince Supreme Court to hear appeal over order on home

Stefan and Tammy Saunders unable to meet constitutional threshold for being heard in top court

The logo on a jacket of a member of the Criminal Assets Bureau  carrying out searches on homes and businesses in Dublin targeting the activities of a south inner city-based crime group linked to David Byrne, who was murdered in the Regency Hotel.  PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday March 9, 2016. See PA story POLICE Raids Ireland. Photo credit should read: Niall Carson /PA Wire
The Criminal Assets Bureau in the High Court alleged Stefan Saunders was involved in the €1.8m Brinks Allied security van robbery in Artane, Dublin, in 2005. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

A robbery gang member has failed to persuade the Supreme Court it should consider overturning an order that prevents him from selling or otherwise dealing with his family home pending a further order.

A three-judge panel of the top court said the application by Stefan Saunders and his wife Tammy did not meet the constitutional threshold for being heard in the top court.

In October 2022, the High Court found that the couple’s five-bed house at Hazelbury Park, Dublin 15, was acquired and renovated with the proceeds of crime, while their mortgage was paid with such funds until they fell into arrears in 2010.

Mr Justice Alexander Owens also ruled that a rental property the couple sold, businesses and expensive cars were funded in the same way.


A valuer noted the Hazelbury Park home, which was purchased in 2005 for €360,000 with a 90 per cent mortgage, was refurbished to the “highest standard” in 2007.

The couple denied the assets derived from the proceeds of crime and claimed the funds came from valid employment, gifts and savings.

Stefan Saunders (46) was jailed in 2018 for 7½ years after gardaí foiled a cash-in-transit armed robbery in 2016.

The Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab) alleged in the High Court he was involved in the €1.8 million Brinks Allied security van robbery in Artane, Dublin in 2005. The judge noted he was forensically linked to a vehicle used in a “tiger kidnapping” of a cash transit firm employee.

Ruling in the Cab’s case brought under the 1996 Proceeds of Crime Act, the judge said he was satisfied he was a member of a “gang of robbers” who funded a “spending spree” on these assets by Saunders and his wife between 2005 and 2008.

Between 2003 and 2006, the couple had “access to amounts of money grossly out of kilter with possible sources of legitimate earnings”, the court said.

The Court of Appeal last February dismissed the couple’s appeal of the High Court decision. The three-judge appeal court said they did not make out a case for saying the lower court erred.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court published a determination rejecting the Saunders’s attempt for a further appeal.

Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, Mr Justice Séamus Woulfe and Mr Justice Brian Murray were unconvinced by the argument that the Proceeds of Crime Act should not be used to make findings of criminal culpability using the civil “balance of probabilities” standard of proof, rather than the criminal standard of “beyond all reasonable doubt”.

They said the Court of Appeal was satisfied there was “ample” evidence for the High Court to make its findings regarding Stefan Saunders’s criminal activities.

The Saunders’s contention that the interests of justice were served by a further appeal based on the alleged tarnishing of his reputation was “similarly unpersuasive” given he has been convicted of a criminal offence, the judges added.

Stefan Saunders, who said he worked as a plasterer, and Ms Saunders, who drew a salary from an interior decoration business they owned, deny the assets in question were the proceeds of crime.

They got into financial difficulties in 2010 and later entered a personal insolvency arrangement that led to the sale of the rental property.

The High Court judge said their evidence regarding the source of their money was “general and unconvincing”.

Mr Justice Owens accepted the Cab forensic accountant’s conclusion that their expenditure did not fit with their legitimate sources of income.

The judge said “money from unidentified sources” was used to provide working capital for the interior decoration business in which Ms Saunders worked, U Design of Berkeley Road, Dublin, which was established in June 2005.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is High Court Reporter with The Irish Times