‘Couriers’ involved in money laundering jailed

Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66
Derry's Courthouse on Bishop Street. 3003JM66

Two men who were described in court as ‘couriers engaged in money laundering clearly related to the drugs trade’ have been jailed.

Gregory O’Hagan (25) of Glenbrae Gardens 24-year-old John McMurray, with an address in Saintfield, Belfast, pleaded guilty to concealing criminal property, namely £4,000 in cash, on October 30 last year.

O’Hagan also admitted being involved in the supply of cocaine and viagra and possessing two counterfeit £20 notes between January and October 2013.

Derry Crown Court heard that McMurray was seen getting off the Belfast to Derry train carrying a holdall.

He walked to nearby apartments and spent around five minutes in the city before returning to the station and getting back on the train.

Police became suspicious and removed McMurray from the train. A search of the holdall revealed £4,000 in cash in the bag.

The 24-year-old told police the cash was his girlfriend’s and he had not known it was in the bag.

He said he had come to Derry to see a man he had met in prison and the meeting had been arranged by someone else.

CCTV of the area was examined and a BMW car belonging to O’Hagan was identified.

Police searched O’Hagan’s car and home and two counterfeit notes were seized and fingerprints on them matched those found on the money in McMurray’s holdall.

O’Hagan’s mobile phone was examined and messages revealed he was involved in supplying drugs.

During police interview, McMurray claimed he had to make the trip to Derry to pay off a drug debt.

When O’Hagan was interviewed he admitted buying drugs but denied supplying them.

Judge Philip Babington said both men were involved in money laundering and that this sort of activity ‘allows the drug trade to flourish.’

He added it was clear O’Hagan and McMurray knew what they were doing.

The judge said McMurray’s story about paying off a drug debt was ‘weak’.

Turning to O’Hagan, Judge Babington said the 25-year-old came from a ‘stable family background’ and was in employment.

The judge said this made his case ‘all the more sad and tragic’.

O’Hagan was sentenced to 15 months in prison and McMurray to 14 months imprisonment. Both defendants will serve half their sentence in custody and half on licence.