Judge gets Michael Lowry to attend court for book of evidence
FORMER Cabinet minister Michael Lowry has been remanded for trial by judge and jury on charges of filing incorrect tax returns.
The Independent TD for Tipperary North appeared before Thurles District Court after Judge Elizabeth MacGrath had earlier insisted she wanted the book of evidence in the case to be served on him in person by the State.
Mr Lowry, who appeared in court wearing a dark blue suit, white shirt and purple tie, did not speak during the five-minute hearing. His only action was to nod in acknowledgement of mandatory alibi advice offered by Judge MacGrath.
Gerard O'Brien, for the State, confirmed that the book of evidence was ready.
"The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) consents to the accused being remanded for trial on indictment before the Circuit Court," Mr O'Brien said.
He said the State also consented to Mr Lowry being remanded on existing bail terms on his own bond of €500.
Judge MacGrath noted that the book of evidence had been served on Mr Lowry. She remanded him to appear before the next sitting of Nenagh Circuit Criminal Court on June 24.
Mr Lowry did not comment to the media as he left the court.
The TD had been represented in court yesterday morning by his solicitor Michael Collins. The solicitor said he could accept the book of evidence on behalf of his client who was not present.
However, Judge MacGrath said she would prefer if Mr Lowry was in court so the book of evidence could be served on him in person – and Mr Lowry attended court after lunch.
"I want the book to be served personally," she said. The state solicitor and an assistant had several boxes of evidence in court in relation to the case.
The first charge was levelled against Mr Lowry in December and three further charges were brought against him in January.
The remand was the fifth time the matter had come before Thurles District Court. Mr Lowry has previously confirmed he will vehemently contest the case.
Mr Lowry (60), of Glenreigh, Holycross, Co Tipperary, faces a total of four counts of "knowingly or wilfully" filing incorrect tax returns. Three of the charges relate to a date in October 2003 and involves income tax for the 2002 tax period. The fourth charge relates to a date in August 2007 and involves income tax for the 2006 tax year.
The charges, under section 1078 (2) (A) of the Taxes Consolidation Act, carry a fine of up to €3,000 and/or up to six months in jail, if proven in a District Court and a fine of up to €127,000 and/or up to five years' imprisonment, if proven before a jury in the Circuit Court.
Mr Lowry, a father of three, is a former Minister for Transport, Energy and Communications in John Bruton's Rainbow Coalition government.
He was first elected to the Dail for Fine Gael in 1987. He was appointed to Mr Bruton's Cabinet following the collapse of Albert Reynolds' Fianna Fail-Labour Coalition in late 1994. Mr Lowry resigned his position in November 1996.
He has now been an Independent TD for 17 years.