By Paul Higgins
A Newry man who admitted involvement in a multi-million pound money laundering operation 10 years ago is now a “significant mover in an organised crime gang and high tier drug dealer,” a barrister claimed today (mon).
Prosecuting counsel Robin Steer further claimed that 43-year-old Rory Trainor could be linked to an encrypted mobile phone which was found to contain a “huge number of conversations about transporting cash and drugs.”
Trainor, from the Dunbrae Road in the city appeared at the Magistrates Court, sitting in Lisburn, via videolink from police custody where he was charged when eight offences.
The 43-year-old faces six drugs charges in relation to alleged conspiracies to import and supply class A cocaine and class B cannabis and single charges accusing him of conspiring to transfer criminal property and is entering an arrangement to acquire criminal property, all alleged to have been committed on dates between 25 March and 15 June this year.
Objecting to Trainor being freed on bail due to the risk of further offences and absconding, Mr Steer claimed that in addition to conversations about drugs, officers also uncovered messages about moving and exchanging “large amounts of cash” for sums up to £125,000, something he submitted was “particularly relevant” for Trainor given his previous convictions.
Describing how Trainor could allegedly be linked to the encrypted handset, which police do not have but they have the data from it, the lawyer claimed that he used two usernames of “Genghis Khan and Barnbrack.”
He told the court that in conversations with another user about renting a property, the person using the hacked phone advises to “tell the landlord that you are a friend of Rory T” which is followed up by another message saying the T stands for “Trainor.”
When the other user says they’re going to use a fake name, Trainor allegedly advises “don’t give my name if you are giving a fake ID.”
Images taken from the encrypted phone were said to show a weights bench and pelaton cycling machine and the court heard that when officers searched Trainor’s home “police took comparable images” showing the same items.
“He told another user that his first name was Rory so we say that there’s strong evidence linking him to the data,” Mr Steer contended, revealing that within the data were messages about “transportation being sent from the Netherlands or crates being sent out to Spain.”
“There’s reference to changing large amounts of cash - £125k or £35k and £55k,” said Mr Steer who further revealed that in 2015, Trainor was handed a two year prison sentence, suspended for three years, for a series of money laundering offences committed in 2008 and 2009.
Trainor was also given a Serious Crime Prevention Order in that case and Mr Steer outlines how he had been running a bureau de change on the Old Dublin Road in Newry where he “exchanged criminal property for criminal gangs, mainly drug dealers, with large amounts of money involved.”
When he was sentenced in 2015, the court heard that in the biggest money laundering operation in Irish history, more than £60 million pounds had gone through the little bureau de change in just two and a half years.
Today (mon) Mr Steer submitted those previous convictions and the nature of the current allegations were such to substantiate a risk of further offences being committed, adding there was also a risk of flight as when officers went to his home on 23 July, Trainor “ran out the back door” and was not arrested until the following day.
“This is a man, we say, who is a significant mover in an organised crime gang and a high tier drug dealer facing a substantial sentence particularly by reason of his previous convictions,” declared the lawyer.
Defence counsel Michael Chambers submitted that the whole prosecution case “rests on linking him” to being the user of the phone but that there were “genuine and real triable issues” in the evidence.
“You will know from the national media that this is a very important case reputedly to the NCA and police,” he told District Judge Nigel Broderick, adding that there was “little surprise” in the agencies “putting forward that they have a very good case.”
“But best in mind that very often, cases that seem great at the beginning and are very strong when a great chance of success, don’t turn out that way,” said Mr Chambers.
He revealed that a defendant in a similar case, charged with having £250,000 of criminal cash and 2.5 kilos of herbal cannabis, was granted High Court bail, with a £40,000 cash surety, on Friday with the prosecution attributing a similar role to him.
Defence counsel argued that Trainor could lodge a similar cash surety adding that with all cases, and particularly complex cases such as this, facing significant delays, that Trainor should be granted bail.
Mr Steer told District Judge Nigel Broderick the difference between Trainor and that defendant was Trainor’s previous conviction for money laundering.
DJ Broderick said given the nature of the allegations, the previous convictions and the “nature of the arrest,” he had concerns about the both the risk of flight and further offences being committed so “I’m not minded to admit him to bail.”
Trainor shook his head as he was remanded into custody and his case adjourned to 19 August.