Truck driver pulled over by gardaí had €1.2m in cash in his cab

A truck driver who was pulled over by gardai and caught with more than EUR1.2 million in cash in his cab has been remanded in custody ahead of sentencing.

Noel Purcell (44) told gardai he had agreed to transport the money to Holland after he met a man on a boat and confided in him about his personal debt issues, Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on Tuesday.

Purcell, described by his defence team as “vulnerable” and “easily led”, told gardai he had been offered EUR4,000 to take the money to Holland. He was struggling with mortgage and credit card debt at the time, the court heard.

Purcell, with an address in Tullyvoheen, Clifden, Co Galway, pleaded guilty to one count of possessing cash that was the proceeds of a crime at the Naas Road, Dublin on July 12th last year.

Detective Garda Redmond O’Leary told Diana Stuart BL, prosecuting, that gardai pulled Purcell over on the Naas Road on the day in question following a surveillance operation.

In the cab of the truck, gardai found two large bags containing several packages wrapped in duct tape. Purcell told gardai it “wasn’t drugs, but cash”, the court heard.

When counted by gardai, the cash amounted to EUR1,287,700.

Personal debt issues

Purcell told gardai he had met a man on a boat and got talking to him about his personal debt issues.

He said the man offered to help him and they exchanged numbers.

Purcell said he received a phone call that day and arranged to pick up the package. He was told someone would be in touch to arrange handing over the cash.

Purcell told gardai he “didn’t know what he was getting in to” and had butterflies in his stomach that day. He has no previous convictions.

Det Garda O’Leary agreed with Bernard Condon SC, defending, that Purcell was vulnerable and easily led.

He said gardai accepted Purcell’s version of events.

The court heard Purcell has been a truck driver since the age of 21. Documents were handed into court outlining his financial difficulties.

Mr Condon said Purcell was suffering from anxiety and financial stress at the time of the incident, which he described as a “moment of madness”.

“He made a terrible mistake, an appalling error in his life,” Mr Condon said. He said Purcell was extremely remorseful for his actions and unlikely to re-offend.

Judge Melanie Greally noted that the amount of money was very high.

She said Purcell had engaged in an “inexcusable degree of recklessness”.

The judge said a custodial sentence was unavoidable, given the need for general deterrence.

She remanded Purcell into custody and adjourned the sentence to January 19th next year to allow for a Probation Services report.

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