Revenue prosecution of Lowry firm thrown out over incorrect address
A JUDGE has thrown out a Revenue prosecution brought against a company owned by TD Michael Lowry because a court summons was served at an out-of-date address.
Judge John O'Neill ruled yesterday at Dublin District Court that he was making "no order" in relation to criminal proceedings against Garuda Ltd, a refrigeration company owned by the former cabinet minister and Independent TD for Tipperary North, which trades under the name of Streamline Enterprises.
The ruling does not affect a separate case against the TD. Last month he was remanded for trial by judge and jury on charges of filing incorrect tax returns. He is due to appear before Neagh Circuit Criminal Court on June 24.
The prosecution at Dublin District Court had been taken by the Director of Public Prosecutions on behalf of the Revenue Commissioners.
The firm had its registered offices at the Gables, Torquay Road, Foxrock, Co Dublin, but recently, after 17 years, it had changed its registered office address to Thurles, Co Tipperary.
It was facing two charges relating to the the filing of incorrect information and incorrect accounts, on or about December 22, 2003, in relation to the company's corporation tax for 2002, contrary to section 1078(2)(a) and (3) of the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997, as amended by section 211 of the Finance Act, 1999.
The third charge alleged the company provided an incorrect corporation tax return to Revenue on or about August 3, 2007, for the 2006 accounting year.
During legal arguments Judge O'Neill had heard submissions from defence barrister Justin McQuade and Grainne O'Neill BL prosecuting.
Summons were issued by Dublin District Court on December 10 last and served by a garda at the company's accountants in Foxrock on January 16. However, by then Garuda Ltd had changed its registered office to Thurles in Co Tipperary but that information was not updated on the Companies Registration Office's website until January 14.
Mr McQuade, for Garuda Ltd, had argued that there were issues in relation to jurisdiction as the summons were issued by a court in Tipperary.
He also argued that they were not correctly served in accordance with the district court rules or the Companies Act. They were not delivered to the correct address and the only order the judge could make was "no order", he had submitted.
In reply Ms O'Neill, for the State, had said that would mean a company could frustrate a prosecution by continually changing its registered office. She also said summonses were accepted by an employee of Garuda Ltd's accountants.
She had argued that the purpose of a summons was "a vehicle to obtain the presence of an accused before the court" and as the defendant company was represented at the proceedings, "that cures any defects".
She had said the Foxrock address had been Garuda Ltd's registered office for 17 years, until it was changed in January. It was still the registered address on December 10 last when the summonses were initially applied for, she said.
In his ruling yesterday Judge O'Neill said the summons had been served at the company's previous registered address and he held that the court did not have jurisdiction to deal with the case.