Saturday 22 October 2016

Why the CAB (nearly) always gets its man

Published 18/12/2015 | 02:30

Tom 'Slab' Murphy
Tom 'Slab' Murphy

Like the Canadian Royal Mounties, the Criminal Assets Bureau (nearly) always gets its man.

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Nailing the bureau's latest target, Tom 'Slab' Murphy is probably one of its biggest successes since it was established in the wake of the murders of 'Sunday Independent' journalist Veronica Guerin and Det Gda Jerry McCabe.

Garda McCabe was shot dead by members of a Provisional IRA unit, responsible for a spate of armed robberies in Munster in the mid-1990s.

Murphy, who was regarded by police on both sides of the Border as the so-called chief of staff of the Provisionals, was a constant thorn in their sides.

Despite a series of overt and covert operations, the police were unable over the past few decades to find evidence to back up a successful criminal prosecution against him.

Searches and raids were carried out around his homeland at Ballybinaby, which straddles the Louth-Armagh border.

But it was not until a comb-out of his land, home and outsheds was launched in March 2006, that the veteran republican made a mistake and left evidence that helped land him in the Special Criminal Court.

During a search of an outhouse that involved member of the bureau, three plastic bags and one case were discovered.

They contained large sums of cash in euro and Sterling as well as cheques and documentation related to farming, livestock and the oil industry. It was enough to encourage the bureau to intensify a probe into Murphy's financial affairs, leading to nine charges of tax evasion.

After it was set up, the bureau initially focused on big gangland figures, including John Gilligan, the leader of the gang responsible for the Guerin murder, and his associates.

The closing phase of the last of the Gilligan-related cases is currently before the High Court.

The bureau then moved into other areas and widened its targets to include former members of the Provisional IRA and the various dissident factions.

Some of those targets ended up settling with the bureau for large financial sums. They included a number who had been involved in cigarette smuggling and other Border racketeering.

The activities of the bureau have since extended to all parts of the State with the appointment of regional profilers, and this has allowed the agency to also focus on mid- and lower-ranking criminals, who might not be top names on a national scale but have been causing considerable law and order problems for their local communities.

The prosecution of Murphy, involving a 10-week trial, was the main item on the bureau agenda this year. But it did not interfere with normal business - and by year end it is expected that the bureau will have boosted State coffers by bringing in around €7m.

Irish Independent

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