THE Criminal Assets Bureau has won a significant battle in its bid to seize ?170,000 from Belfast jail escaper Anthony Sloan in unpaid taxes and interest.
The CAB claims that Sloan, who has an address in Dundalk, Co Louth, worked as a hackney driver between 1993 and 1996.
Sloan says he was unemployed and became a hackney driver at a later date. And he argued that as a former republican prisoner, he was under such intense garda surveillance at the time that they would have known if he had been working as claimed.
He was among a group of eight IRA prisoners who shot their way out of Crumlin Road jail with smuggled handguns in 1981 and escaped across the Border.
Sloan, Michael McKee and Angelo Fusco were arrested by gardai within a year of their escape and sentenced by the Special Criminal Court, under extra-jurisdictional legislation, to 10-year jail terms which they served in Portlaoise prison.
In December 2000 Sloan was one of four former IRA men who were granted special dispensation by Queen Elizabeth to return to the North without fear of prosecution in a move linked to the peace process.
Following the CAB tax assessment, Sloan began judicial review proceedings where he claimed that "an anonymous tax inspector" had abused his powers by dealing with a tax assessment under the aegis of the CAB rather than in the normal way. He also sought orders quashing two court decisions in 2002 rejecting his appeals against the assessments.
In opposing the application, the CAB said Sloan was required to submit legal submissions and other documents for the hearing of his tax appeals.
Those legal submissions had only been received on July 16, 2000, after a hearing on July 12 and that other documents sought from Sloan had not been received. The appeal was dismissed because of the failure to produce those documents.
In his evidence the head of the CAB, Det Chief Supt Felix McKenna, stated that he had at all times a clear suspicion that Sloan had been in possession or control of assets that were the proceeds of criminal activity.
Rejecting Sloan's application in the High Court, Mr Justice Quirke recalled that Chief Supt McKenna had repeated he had such a conviction at all appropriate times and even identified the crimes he suspected Sloan of being involved in and the proceeds which the perpetrators had recovered from those crimes.
Mr Justice Quirke ruled that the decision to assess Sloan for tax for the years at issue resulted from a criminal investigation initiated by the gardai and resulting in a search of Sloan's home that involved members of the CAB. He also dismissed the other grounds for Sloan's application.