Court left baffled by 'Slab' Murphy's identity theft claim
After nine weeks at trial, the State's prosecution for alleged tax offences against prominent republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, has reached its closing stages.
The crux of the case is whether Mr Murphy, prosecuted on foot of a Criminal Assets Bureau investigation, is a chargeable person - someone who is chargeable to tax on income.
And it is the State's case that Mr Murphy (66) of Ballybinaby, Hacksballscross, Co Louth, conducted significant dealings in relation to cattle and land and received farming grants from the Department of Agriculture but failed to make any returns to the revenue.
The prosecution maintain that in this instance, there is no dispute that cattle trade is going on in the name of Thomas Murphy; that income from the trade went into a bank account of Thomas Murphy and was used to fund a pension policy Thomas Murphy had set up. But yesterday Mr Murphy's lawyer, John Kearney QC urged the court to find that Thomas Murphy was the victim of an identity theft perpetrated on him by his brother Patrick Murphy.
Mr Kearney said Patrick Murphy was 'the man in charge' and 'controller' who - amongst other things -secreted cash and documents in his shed for the purposes of avoiding detection.
Mr Kearney told the non jury Special Criminal Court that it actually doesn't matter whether Thomas Murphy (who denies all charges) knew his brother Patrick Murphy was at this "nefarious activity" or not.
"Is this [Patrick Murphy] the man who sat beside him [Thomas Murphy] in court during the trial, " asked Mr Justice Paul Butler, the senior judge on the three judge court.
Mr Kearney confirmed it was, adding that this alleged identity theft, which the lawyer said could be characterised as "identity borrowing", was "very difficult from a familial perspective" for the Murphy brothers.
"You characterise him [Patrick] as stealing his [Thomas's] identity," said a baffled Judge Butler.
"The reality is, he did it," replied Mr Kearney who also claimed that the prosecution had failed to prove that Thomas Murphy was involved in farming or did indeed live at Ballybinaby.
"Where is the evidence that Thomas Murphy was living at Ballybinaby or anywhere in the State given the proximity to the border," the lawyer asked, adding that Thomas Murphy was the only member of the Murphy family not arrested following the CAB's search of the premises in March 2006.
Prosecutor Paul Burns SC earlier told the court the claim that Thomas Murphy was the victim of some "elaborate identity theft" is "a construct woven to get around the evidence".
The trial continues.