A COUNTY Limerick pensioner who was forced to store thousands of euro worth of counterfeit cash at his home by criminals from Limerick city avoided a prison sentence after the judge struck out the case against him.
Frederick Travers, 76, of Scanlon Park, Castleconnell pleaded guilty to possession of more than €8,000 worth of counterfeit notes at his home on April 25, 2010.
Limerick Court was told that 170 fake €50 notes, with a street value if €8,500, were seized when gardai searched his council home following a lengthy surveillance operation.
Det Garda Pat Whelan, Roxboro, said during the pre-planned garda operation, he observed some “very unsavoury characters” coming and going from the house where Travers lives alone. “They would have been connected to criminal gangs in the city,” he told the court.
Det Garda Whelan agreed with solicitor John Herbert, representing Frederick Travers, that his client was being used to store the money and that he was not involved in the production of the counterfeit money.
“He was very low on the food chain,” said the detective.
In Mitigation, Mr Herbert submitted to the court that Travers was acting “under duress” and that he did not have a choice as the people involved were “very sinister” individuals.
During the same court sitting, the defendant also pleaded guilty to possession of two shotgun cartridges at his home on the same date.
By way of explanation, Mr Herbert said Travers previously had a licensed shotgun in his home.
However, he told the court he had surrendered the weapon more than 20 years and that he did not realise that he still had some ammunition in the house until gardai recovered it during the search.
Det Garda Whelan did not dispute this assertion.
After hearing details of the offence, Judge Eamon O’Brien said he was striking out the case against Frederick Travers because of his age, his guilty plea and the circumstances of the case.
However, he told Sgt Donal Cronin, prosecuting, that gardai can re-enter the charges if there are any future difficulties involving the defendant.