Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 17:18 UK

Court hears of Northern Bank robbery 'trail'

Northern Bank
The Northern Bank robbery took place in Belfast in December 2004

A senior Irish police officer thought he was "on the trail" of money from the Northern Bank robbery when he began investigating Tom Hanlon in 2005.

Detective Chief Superintendent Tony Quilter was speaking at Dublin's Special Criminal Court on Wednesday.

He said confidential information had led him to believe Tom Hanlon was an IRA member.

Mr Hanlon, 43, of Pembroke Road in Passage West, is standing trial for IRA membership.

On Wednesday the court heard that police found a Sinn Fein cheque book, photocopies of "joke" Northern Bank notes with images of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, two cheques for the 'Colombia Three' campaign and other documents in Mr Hanlon's bedroom.

DNA match

Prosecuting counsel Mr Tom O' Connell SC said other searches in the Cork area in February 2005 uncovered £2.4m in seven bags in a locked cupboard in a house.

The house was owned by Ted Cunningham, a financial adviser who in 2009 became the only person to have been found guilty of an offence connected to the Northern Bank robbery.

Mr O'Connell said that DNA samples taken from Mr Hanlon matched DNA taken from the zip handle of one of the money bags.

He also said that 15,000 notes recovered by police had handwriting or other marks on them, and the court would hear evidence from Ms Sonia Moore from the Northern Bank cash centre in Belfast that her handwriting was on 287 of the notes.

The trial continues.

Mr Hanlon was a Sinn Fein councillor until 2004, and stood in the Republic's general election in 2002.

The Northern Bank robbery took place in December 2004, when thieves escaped with £26.4m from the bank's Belfast headquarters.

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