Homeless man told Gardai he found €13,000 in bank account avoids jail term  for money laundering
Dublin Circuit Criminal Court

Homeless man told Gardai he found €13,000 in bank account avoids jail term for money laundering

A homeless man who told gardai he found €13,000 in his bank account when checking to see if an expected €10 refund had been lodged has avoided a jail term for money laundering, reports Fiona Ferguson.

Rinaldo Sciolla (36) of Ferncourt Drive, Old Court Road, Firhouse pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to possession of the proceeds of criminal conduct to wit cash from Bank of Ireland, Tallaght at a place unknown within the State on a date between January 16 to 23rd, 2020.

The investigating garda told Derek Cooney BL, prosecuting, that a company in Cork received an email purporting to be an invoice from a supplier with Sciolla’s IBAN and BIC on it. The company paid over €13,166 and later contacted gardai after realising there had been a fraud.

Gardai traced the account details to Sciolla and he was arrested and interviewed.

Sciolla said he had “no idea” how the money came to be in his account. He said he had been expecting a €10 refund from the bank and when he went to check his account saw the money there.

He admitted withdrawing €4,000 which he used to pay for accommodation, food and petrol.

The court heard the following day €2,000 was withdrawn and the next day €7,000 was transferred to a UK bank account. Sciolla denied any knowledge of these transactions.

The money has not been recovered and the Cork company had to repay the amount to their supplier.

Kieran Kelly BL, defending, said Sciolla, who has no previous convictions, had been staying in homeless accommodation and his car at the time and was living “hand to mouth”. He submitted that Sciolla’s details could have been “in open view” while he was in homeless accommodation.

He said his client, who has been assessed as at low risk of reoffending, was not involved in the wider fraud and seems to have put the matter behind him.

Judge Melanie Greally noted Sciolla had recently secured employment following a period of unemployment and had a supportive partner. She said he had not come to any other adverse attention.

The judge said he was a partial beneficiary in this case as he had taken money to pay expenses at a time when he was not financially well to do.

She said this type of offending has to be regarded seriously because the provision of bank accounts to receive criminal proceed is a very valuable service for persons involved in criminal offending.

Judge Greally set a headline sentence of two and a half years and gave credit for his guilty plea, co-operation, lack of prior offending and his particular circumstances related to his homelessness and financial pressures. She imposed an 18-month sentence which she suspended in full.

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