Page last updated at 15:36 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 16:36 UK

Ten years for 26m raid launderer

Ted Cunningham who laundered cash from the Northern Bank robbery being led away after receiving a 10 year jail sentence.
Ted Cunningham being led away after receiving a 10 year jail sentence.

The only person so far to have been found guilty of an offence connected to the Northern Bank cash centre robbery has been sentenced to 10 years in jail.

Financial adviser Ted Cunningham was found guilty of laundering more than £3m in cash from the £26.5m Belfast cash centre robbery.

Cunningham, 60, of Farran, County Cork, was convicted at Cork Criminal Court in the Republic of Ireland last month.

A majority of the jury found him guilty on 10 charges.

A gang stole the money from the headquarters of the Northern Bank in Belfast in December 2004 in a raid blamed on the IRA.

The money lender said £2.3m found in the basement of his home in February 2005 came from the sale of a gravel pit in Offaly to Bulgarian businessmen.

Cunningham showed no emotion as he realised he would be a pensioner before he is freed from Cork Prison.

He stood alone. His wife, Cathy, was not in the court as Judge Cornelius Murphy told him he had involved a number of innocent people in his scam to launder cash.

Shane Harrison
By Shane Harrison
BBC News, Dublin
CCTV pictures in late December 2005 captured the robbery in progress at the Northern Bank in the centre of Belfast.

The biggest, at the time, in British and Irish history.

Twenty six-and-a-half million pounds stolen and an investigation with far reaching consequences.

The police forces on both sides of the border were in no doubt about who carried it out.

Sir Hugh Orde, the Chief Constable of the PSNI, said a month after the raid: "In my opinion the Provisional IRA were responsible for this crime and all main lines enquiry currently undertaken are in that direction."

"He stored money, he gave money to others to store, bought cars, used money as security, and obtained euro value for the northern sterling," Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard.

"There's no doubt there was premeditation and planning involved in the offences.

"He persisted to the end with a concocted alibi."

Cunningham's 34-year-old son, Timothy, was given a three-year sentence suspended for three years. He pleaded guilty to one offence of money laundering during the 10-week trial in Cork.

Earlier, the judge said he was merely a pawn in the operation who had taken great courage to plead guilty while his father was still on trial.

The recently-married epilepsy sufferer sighed in relief as he was bound to keep the peace for three years.

"He was under the influence and direction of his father at the time," said Judge Murphy.

"He was at no time the originator of the crime."

The judge gave Tim Cunningham credit for his remorse and guilty plea, and for returning home from the US voluntarily to face the charges.

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