A MOTHER-of-two whose home was searched during a garda investigation into suspected drug-dealing failed in her bid to have almost €50,000 worth of luxury goods returned to her.
Making a Police Property Application, the 45-year-old, who lives on the northside of the city, denied suggestions that much of the property had been stolen.
Detective Garda David Baynham of the divisional drugs unit told Limerick District Court the home of the woman was searched under warrant shortly after 9pm on February 28, last after he received confidential information that drugs were being stored in the house.
Judge Eugene O’Kelly was told that a large quantity of cannabis was found in the kitchen and that a smaller quantity, which was mixed with tobacco, was located elsewhere in the house.
Det Garda Baynham said in addition to the drugs more than a thousand items of property including dozens of designer handbags, shoes, bottles of perfume,sunglasses and items of jewellery and crystal were removed from the house as he believed they were “possibly stolen”.
The property seized from the house included items made by Lacoste, Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci,Hugo Boss and Armani.
“There was a multitude of items,” he said adding that many of them were still in their original packaging with some still having price tags attached.
“The majority [of them] were sealed and unopened,” he said, adding that the items were found all over the the house “in presses, drawers, wardrobes and under beds”.
The court was told that while a large number of items were removed from the house, a “significant amount of property” was left behind.
Det Garda Baynham confirmed that a number of items have since been returned as gardai are “satisfied they were lawfully hers to have”.
Being cross-examined by solicitor Darach McCarty, the detective rejected suggestions the property had been removed from the house illegally.
While he accepted the applicant, who works part-time for a city retailer, had given an account for each of the items seized, he said he did not believe her. “Her answers were not credible, they were unbelievable,” he said,
He added that having made enquiries he is satisfied the items are stolen and he told the court that “other parties have expressed an interest in some of the items seized”.
In relation to the drugs, the detective said the house where the woman lives had been “on the radar” for some time and that that he suspects she “is involved in the drug scene”.
In her evidence, the woman said she likes to shop, is a “hoarder” and likes her personal belongings.
“I do collect things, I do like multiples, I don’t like empty spaces,” she told the court.
The woman, who is in receipt of income support, told the court in recent years her father shared a substantial inheritance with his siblings and that he had lodged his share into a bank account which was also in her name.
Statements from the bank account – dating back a number of years – were produced in court with the woman stating that the transactions supported her contention that she had legitimately bought all of the property.
The woman agreed she had been given a itemised list of all the items taken by gardai but said she believed additional items had also been removed from her home, which were accounted for..
She said she was questioned by gardai about the cannabis and that when she returned home a number of days later, her house “was a wreck” adding that she had “left it spick and span”.
Urging the judge to order the return of the item seized, Mr McCarthy said his client was “compulsive by nature” and he submitted it was not reasonable for gardai to conclude the property had been stolen.
However, Judge O’Kelly disagreed saying gardai were entitled to seize the property and retain it pending the completion of inquiries.
Noting that investigations are continuing, he refused the application saying he believed it was premature.