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Person who sold his passport to #Encrochat Dealer Daniel Kinahan for €2,000 could face prison

Seamus Walsh is typical of the vulnerable individual a criminal gang preys on and uses to its own advantage.

A heroin addict who had just lost his father to cancer, Walsh was paid a mere €2,000 for his passport, which gang leader Daniel Kinahan, later used to fly around the world undetected.

Dundalk Circuit Court was told how, in December 2011, Walsh was “off his head on drugs” when approached by a member of the Travelling community he claimed not to know about buying the passport.

A fee of €2,000 was agreed and Walsh later submitted false documents to apply for a passport in his own name.

These included a bank account he never had, a driver’s licence number that did not exist and a utility bill that was not addressed to him.

Also included was a photo of a man who bears no resemblance to Walsh, although the person is of similar age.

The man in the picture was Kinahan, described in court as a senior figure in organised crime who was the “ultimate recipient” of the travel document.

It was posted to Walsh’s home on December 6, and shortly afterwards he passed it on, unaware of who was going to use it.

He gave it no further consideration until 2018, when detectives from the Garda National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI) called to his home.

In the intervening seven years, Kinahan had used the passport to travel around Europe and farther afield to avoid adverse attention from law enforcement officials.

Detective Garda Feilim McKenna of the NBCI told a court yesterday he was aware it was used for travel, but “at this moment wouldn’t be in a position to comment further”.

However, the Irish Independent understands that among the destinations visited by Kinahan on the dodgy passport were Spain, the United Arab Emirates and the Netherlands.

Investigations into Kinahan established he visited Dubai under the Walsh alias only weeks before the murder of Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch’s nephew Gary outside a villa complex on the Costa del Sol.

Gardaí believe other cartel members were present in the Middle Eastern city at the time. Two months later, Kinahan returned to Dubai, this time after a suspected attempt on his life in November 2015.

A gunman had approached several crime figures outside the Red Cow Moran Hotel, but failed to fire his weapon after it jammed.

Gang associate Liam Roe escaped unharmed, although gardaí believe Kinahan was the intended target. He again later travelled to Dubai under the Walsh passport.

The fraudulent document was one of eight available to Kinahan in recent years.

The US Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC), which placed financial sanctions on the gang last year, believe he also had access to three other Irish passports, one UK passport, and three identification cards from the UAE.

In further efforts to evade police forces, he used a series of aliases when communicating on encrypted devices, including Chess, D and Cuz.

Dundalk Circuit Court was told yesterday there is no connection between Walsh and Kinahan or organised criminality.

His only previous infractions related to minor offences for theft and public order more than 10 years ago.​

Defence barrister Ronan O’Carroll also outlined how his client’s life had changed drastically since he made the decision to sell his passport 13 years ago. Whereas Walsh had previously been in “the throes of a heroin addiction”, he is now six years sober and drug-free.

In 2011 he was at the lowest point in his life with “no regard for his personal affairs”, but is now a volunteer within his local community.

The court was told he trains an under-age GAA team every Sunday and helps out around the club with clean-ups and fundraising.

The 43-year-old is also the sole carer for his elderly mother, who requires a wheelchair and has a number of serious ailments.

Apart from the decision to sell his passport, counsel said, Walsh had lived a “very uneventful life”.

A final decision on sentencing will be made on April 25, with Judge Dara Hayes saying he wanted medical reports and urine analysis to support the evidence given in favour of the defendant.

Judge Hayes said that, notwithstanding the passport’s recipient, it was still a serious offence carried out in a manner that would only suggest the document was to be used for a criminal purpose.

As Kinahan continues his efforts to evade international police forces, another person used and disposed of by his gang now faces a “very real possibility” of a prison sentence.

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