Northern Bank robbery – Redux. Again.

Another, possibly final, update to the convictions resulting from Operation Phoenix.  George Hegarty had been charged with IRA membership in May 2009 before pleading guilty to  money-laundering offences connected to the 2004 Northern Bank robbery.

Today Hegarty was sentenced to 6 years, suspended, for “possessing £66,000 sterling at his address on February 16, 2005, knowing or believing that the money represented the proceeds of a robbery at the Northern Bank, Belfast on December 20, 2004”.

From the iol report

Detective Sergeant John Cahill gave evidence to the three-judge, non-jury court that gardaí launched an investigation into several individuals in Cork in February 2005 following the Northern Bank robbery.

He said that gardaí who searched Hegarty’s home found the £66,000 sterling in his bedroom. After his arrest Hegarty admitted to gardaí during interviews that he knew the money was part of the Northern Bank robbery proceeds.

Det Sgt Cahill told Hegarty’s counsel Mr Tom Creed SC that he and his partner have an adult autistic child. He also agreed that Hegarty is the carer for his partner who is confined to a wheelchair and needs full-time care.

The Detective Sergeant said that Hegarty would not have benefited from his part in the money laundering and was involved because of his republican sympathies.

As I noted previously, earlier reports were more explicit

As yesterday’s Irish News noted

Mr Hegarty was originally arrested in February 2005 at the same time as Cork financier Ted Cunningham, Dublin businessman Phil Flynn and former Sinn Féin councillor Tom Hanlon.

Mr Hegarty, who said he was a republican and a member of Sinn Féin, was initially released without charge.

However, in May last year he appeared in court alongside Mr Hanlon accused of IRA membership on February 16 2005.

Interestingly, the party references I noted in May 2009 seem to have been edited from the original BBC report, but at least one report from 2005 remains accessible online describing Hegarty as a ”Sinn Féin activist”.  The iol report noting that Hegarty “is also known as a Sinn Féin member and republican” also remains.

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