A sum of €93,005 in cash found in a shoebox in a Brown Thomas bag in the boot of a car stopped by gardaí just off Dublin’s Malahide Road has been declared by the High Court to represent the proceeds of crime.
Three BQ Aquarius mobile phones, which the Criminal Assets Bureau claimed were EncroChat encrypted mobile devices commonly used by criminal groups to communicate securely, and three Dutch SIM cards known to be used in mobile devices using EncroChat, as well as stickers with code names, were found in a shoulder bag in the boot, the High Court heard.
When stopped at 10.30pm on January 8th, 2020, after his Toyota Yaris was observed being driven in an erratic manner, Robert Noctor (49), formerly with an address at Victoria Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3, but whose current whereabouts are unknown, was “nervous and evasive” when spoken to but told a detective sergeant there was a large sum of money in the boot, according to sworn statements from the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab).
Mr Noctor told the detective he was instructed by people he did not know to deliver the cash and that he had previously carried out four to five similar runs, including one over the Border, each involving cash sums of €100,000-€150,000, for which he was paid between €500-€1,500 a time.
He was unable or unwilling to identify the man who gave him the €93,005 in a Brown Thomas bag earlier that day or where, or to whom, it was to be delivered, Cab said. Mr Noctor also told the detective that, on behalf of a third party whose identity he did not wish to disclose, he sold encrypted mobile devices for €1,500 each and top-ups for these accounts for €600 each.
Mr Noctor, who was working in early 2020 as a barman in Dublin, has no criminal convictions, but Cab’s investigations indicated he did not have sufficient legitimate means over the course of the preceding years to have accumulated €93,390 in savings, it was stated.
Some “questionable” lodgments into his account ultimately appeared to go towards his son’s private education in the UK, it was stated.
Mr Noctor has never contacted the Cab or the detective who stopped him seeking the return of the cash or the phones, according to the affidavits.
The Cab claimed Mr Noctor has identified himself as “a key player” in the sale and supply of Encro encrypted mobile phones used by criminals. Labelling the phones with codenames was part of a practice where a criminal is referred to by a code name known only to other criminals operating within their circles, it said.
When law enforcement agencies got access to the Encrochat messaging service in early 2020, information obtained about messages between users led to a large number of arrests, drugs and cash seizures around Europe.
At the High Court last week, Mr Justice Alexander Owens granted orders to David Dodd BL, for the Cab, declaring the €93,005 the proceeds of crime and appointing a Cab receiver over the money.