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Courtroom refuses handy again €7,000 to man caught with unlawful cigarette haul

A person has failed in his bid to have over €7,000 money returned to him following a big seizure of unlawful cigarettes at his house in Letterkenny.

Income officers discovered 13,800 unstamped cigarettes on the house of Michal Kostuch at New Line Courtroom in Letterkenny 5 years in the past.

Kostuch sought the return of €7,200 which was additionally positioned within the raid carried out by Income officers. Nonetheless, Decide John Aylmer, presiding at Letterkenny Circuit Courtroom, mentioned he was glad that the cash was the proceeds of legal exercise.

Ms Fiona Crawford BL, for the State, utilized for the forfeiture of the money, which she mentioned both instantly or not directly represented the proceeds of crime.

In October 2018, Customs officers grew to become conscious of a package deal arriving at Dublin Port which was addressed to a property in Letterkenny. A amount of 8,200 unpacked cigarettes had been within the package deal.

A ‘managed supply’ was made to the handle in Letterkenny and a search warrant was subsequently obtained at Ballyshannon District Courtroom.

Throughout the search, officers discovered a complete of 13,800 cigarettes, 400 of which had been positioned in a automobile parked on the driveway. The others had been present in two kids’s bedrooms and the master suite.

Ms Crawford instructed the courtroom that the whole worth of the cigarettes was €6,500. Officers additionally discovered €7,200 in money hid beneath a field of garments hangers in the master suite.

Income officers wrote to Kostuch and requested for a full account of the supply of an meant use for the automobile in addition to documentary proof.

In an electronic mail to the Income, Kostuch mentioned that because of the truth that he and his associate had been anticipating a 3rd little one he requested his mother-in-law, Ms Anna Hrusciel, for cash to assist buy a brand new household automobile. He mentioned he obtained the funds whereas on a visit to Poland.

Ms Hrusciel attended the listening to by way of video hyperlink from her house in Poland and was aided by a Polish interpreter who was current in courtroom.

The cash was seized and the courtroom heard that a number of functions had been made to the District Courtroom to have the sum returned.

Initially, Kostuch instructed a Income officer in his house through the search having been instructed that the money was being seized: “That’s my financial savings. My boss pays me in money on a regular basis, to not the financial institution.”

In a later-sworn affidavit, Kostuch mentioned the cigarettes had been introduced again to Eire from holidays and mentioned he would promote small portions to associates and acquaintances.

He mentioned the 30,000 Polish Zloty was transformed to euro foreign money with a purpose to buy a automobile. The trade price was disputed by the prosecution.

In January 2019, Kostuch purchased a automobile, paying €8,450 – €7,900 of which was paid in money and an additional €550 paid by card. Kostuch mentioned he was ‘involved’ that if a big sum entered his checking account that he would lose his Social Welfare funds. The courtroom heard that he was in receipt of €250 per week from the State.

Ms Hrusciel, in an affidavit sworn in June 2021, mentioned Kostuch sought assist in shopping for a automobile and she or he agreed to help him. Ms Hrusciel received a mortgage from a financial institution in Poland and gave Kostuch the funds.

Ms Hrusciel, who works in a ‘seasonal’ fruit and vegetable job within the Netherlands, mentioned she has requested Kostuch for the steadiness of cash to be repaid. Thus far, €1,000 has been paid again. He assured his mother-in-law that he would give her any cash recouped from his Circuit Courtroom software.

Barrister for Kostuch, Mr Timothy Morrow BL, mentioned his consumer was ‘fairly scared’ when the Income officers got here to his home and there was additionally ‘a problem of translation’.

A sequence of ATM withdrawals, some for €1500 and others for €1000, totalling €6,500 had been mentioned to be merely how Kostuch operated and no different sums of cash had been concerned.

Decide John Aylmer famous that Kostuch was ‘silent’ about what he did from the proceeds of promoting cigarettes. Decide Aylmer mentioned the prosecution has established as a matter of chance that the cash seized was the proceeds of the illicit commerce in cigarettes, which Kostuch beforehand pleaded responsible to.

Decide Aylmer described the cash discovered within the wardrobe was ‘extraordinarily suspicious’. “He instantly supplied a proof and made no point out of being the proceeds of a mortgage for a automobile,” Decide Aylmer mentioned. “Retrospectively, he tried to clarify it away and mentioned he was afraid that he may incur a tax legal responsibility. I don’t discover that believable or persuasive in any manner.”

Decide Aylmer mentioned nothing earlier than the courtroom from Kostuch raised a doubt in his thoughts. Decide Aylmer ordered the forfeiture of the cash because the proceeds of crime. Noting that the State was put to lots of effort within the case, he additionally awarded prices.

In 2021, at Letterkenny District Courtroom, Kostuch was fined €2,500 for the possession of the unlawful cigarettes.

Courtroom refuses handy again €7,000 to man caught with unlawful cigarette haul was final modified: October 18th, 2023 by Employees Author