DPP v Ajibola

JurisdictionIreland
JudgeMr. Justice Edwards
Judgment Date15 October 2019
Neutral Citation[2019] IECA 253
CourtCourt of Appeal (Ireland)
Docket NumberRecord No: 128/2019
Date15 October 2019
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
RESPONDENT
V
PRINCE AJIBOLA
APPELLANT

[2019] IECA 253

Birmingham P.

Peart J.

Edwards J.

Record No: 128/2019

THE COURT OF APPEAL

Sentencing – Money laundering – Severity of sentence – Appellant seeking to appeal against sentence – Whether sentence was unduly severe

Facts: The appellant, Mr Ajibola, pleaded guilty on arraignment before the Dublin Circuit Court on the 26th of March, 2019, to a charge of money laundering contrary to s. 7(1)(a)(ii), and s. 7(1)(b), and as provided for with respect to penalty in s.7(3), of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing) Act 2010. On the 29th of May, 2019, the appellant received a sentence of four years imprisonment with the final two years suspended, subject to the conditions that he would keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of two years post-release, that he would enter into a bond in the sum of €100 and that he would forthwith pay €1900 to the prosecuting member of An Garda Siochána so that it could be transferred to the injured party. The appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal against that sentence, submitting that the sentencing judge imposed a sentence which was excessive, unduly severe and disproportionate given the weight and nature of the evidence, the offence as actually charged on the indictment and in consideration of all of the circumstances of the case. The appellant identified two core issues as being central to his appeal namely a contention that the sentencing judge had over-assessed the gravity of the case and that the appellant had received insufficient discount for mitigation.

Held by the Court that it could find no error of principle in terms of the assessment of gravity. The Court was satisfied that the discount afforded was more than adequate, and found no error of principle on the mitigation side either.

The Court held that the appeal would be dismissed.

Appeal dismissed.

JUDGMENT of the Court delivered ( ex tempore) on the 15 th day of October 2019 by Mr. Justice Edwards
Introduction
1

The appellant pleaded guilty on arraignment before the Dublin Circuit Court on the 26th of March, 2019, to a charge of money laundering contrary to section 7(1)(a)(ii), and 7(1)(b), and as provided for with respect to penalty in s.7(3), of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing) Act, 2010 (‘the Act of 2010')

2

The circumstances in which the offence was committed as particularised in the indictment were that ‘Prince Ajibola, on or about the 9th August 2016, at a place unknown within the State, did engage in handling property, the proceeds of crime, to wit €32,000, while knowing or believing or being reckless as to whether or not the said property was the proceeds of criminal conduct'.

3

The maximum potential penalty for such an offence is a fine and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years. On the 29th of May, 2019, the appellant received a sentence of four years imprisonment with the final two years suspended, subject to the conditions that he would keep the peace and be of good behaviour for a period of two years post-release; that he would enter into a bond in the sum of €100; and that he would forthwith pay €1900 to the prosecuting member of An Garda Siochána so that it could be transferred to the injured party.

The facts as established in evidence
4

On 29 May, 2019, Garda Raymond Lyons testified to the sentencing court concerning the following matters. He told the court that on the 21st of September, 2016, it was reported to gardai that €32,000 had been stolen from a company called Finance Ireland and transferred into a suspicious account purporting to belong to a company named Gaynor Plant Sales.

5

Gaynor Plant Sales Ltd is a legitimate company engaged in the business of selling construction equipment. The evidence was that a building contractor, a Mr Gary Coone, was desirous of purchasing a Hitachi machine costing €32,000 from Gaynor Plant Sales for use in his construction business. The precise nature of the machine is unspecified but it is presumed, although nothing turns on it, that it was probably something like a tracked excavator. At any rate Mr Coone needed to secure finance to enable him to make the said purchase and he contacted a financial brokerage called Practical Finance, which in turn arranged the necessary finance for Mr Coone through Finance Ireland.

6

During the putting in place of the financial arrangements, emails were exchanged between the three parties involved, namely Gaynor Plant Sales, Practical Finance representing Mr Coone, and Finance Ireland. During these exchanges Finance Ireland sought, via Practical Finance, details of Gaynor Plant Sales bank account so that they could in due course transfer the consideration of €32,000 to that company once the required finance was in place. Gardai believed that the email requesting these details was intercepted by a party unknown. The intercepted e-mail was addressed to info@gaynorplantsales.com. The intercepting party then replied to the original sender, i.e., Practical Finance from a somewhat similar sounding and looking, but nonetheless different, email address namely info.gaynorplantsales@mail.com. In doing so the intercepting party, representing himself to be Gaynor Plant Sales, stated that there was an alleged difficulty with using the company's normal bank account and that in the circumstances they were providing alternative bank details. A BIC and IBAN for an account at the Ulster Bank branch at Monastery Road in Clondalkin were provided. The broker in Practical Finance took those details in good faith and passed them on to Finance Ireland. The account name given was Aji Limited, and the email requested that an electronic funds transfer (EFT) document be completed by the intending transferor, i.e., Finance Ireland, which request was duly complied with.

7

On the 9th of August 2016 Finance Ireland transferred the sum of €32,000 to the account, details of which had been provided to them and which they believed belonged to Gaynor Plant Sales. They subsequently learned that Gaynor Plant Sales were contending that they never received the money, and the matter was reported to An Garda Siochána.

8

In the course of their investigations gardai successfully linked the appellant to the bank account at the Ulster Bank branch at Monastery Road in Clondalkin to which the funds had been transferred. Bank records were obtained by means of a statutory mechanism and an examination of those details revealed a series of debit transactions effected by the appellant, by way of purchases and cash withdrawals using a debit card, as well as a debit in favour of a credit union account at Clondalkin Credit Union in the name of the appellant. In particular there was multiple foreign currency purchases at Dublin airport, and the investigation...

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3 cases
  • DPP v Brady
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 1 December 2022
    ...concerned, Ní Raifeartaigh J. having reviewed the judgments in The People (DPP) v. Kavanagh [2020] IECA 13; The People (DPP) v. Ajibola [2019] IECA 253 and The People (DPP) v. Carew [2019] IECA 77, respectively, said (at paras 33 and 34): “33. Having regard to the above authorities, it is c......
  • DPP v O'Reilly
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 21 March 2023
    ...months suspended, in circumstances where he was found in possession of a bag containing over €800,000 cash. In People (DPP) v. Ajibola [2019] IECA 253, an appeal against severity was dismissed in circumstances where the appellant received four years imprisonment with two years suspended, an......
  • The People (At the Suit of the DPP) v Samantha Sinnott
    • Ireland
    • Court of Appeal (Ireland)
    • 4 February 2021
    ...of 7 to an actual custodial sentence of 4 years. The sentence must of course take into account time actually served. 1 [2020] IECA 13 2 [2019] IECA 253 3 [2019] IECA 77 ...

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