Granny cleared of laundering gang money

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An Auckland grandmother who had four gang-owned luxury cars in her name has been cleared of money laundering after claiming she had no idea they were ill-gotten gains.

Lisa Marie Ryan, in her 50s, was found not guilty by Justice Mark Woolford in the High Court in Auckland, after facing four charges of helping a gang launder money.

The Crown said Ms Ryan had signed four cars, including a Maserati, a Porsche, an Audi and a Holden into her name to assist her daughter, Victoria Cavanagh and her husband Michael Cavanagh, a Head Hunters gang member.

They said she was well aware her daughter was married to a gang member and knew the couple had no legitimate income.

Ms Ryan was arrested along with seven others in a series of raids that seized more than $12 million of Head Hunters property around the country.

During her trial last week, the defence said she didn’t know about three of the cars and had registered a fourth in her name to help her daughter get insurance.

Ms Ryan said she thought Mr Cavanagh had turned his life around after being released from prison and never suspected the cars were paid for with illegal activities.

She thought he had inherited money from his parents and owned a “juice business”, a character witness said.

Ms Cavanagh told the court she secretly transferred three of the cars into Ms Ryan’s name to avoid having them seized.

In his ruling, Justice Woolford said Ms Ryan’s reputation as a midwife, her trusting nature and willingness to think the best of everyone were compelling.

“I cannot reject Ms Ryan’s evidence as implausible. Other persons may have had their suspicions and made further inquiry, but Ms Ryan does not appear to have done so,” he said.

“She seems to have been naive and trusting.”

Ms Ryan’s daughter pleaded guilty to charges of making a false representation, use a false passport, money laundering and drug possession and is currently awaiting sentencing.

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