independent

Sunday 26 October 2014

Tax cheat avoids jail

Published 12/07/2014 | 12:00

A CONVICTED IRA bomber has avoided jail for failing to make tax returns after settling with the Revenue for €280,000.

A convicted IRA bomber has avoided jail for failing to make tax returns after settling with the Revenue for €280,000.

Leonard Hardy (53) of Mountpleasant, Dundalk in Louth has served time in prison for bombing a British Army base in Germany and for possession of explosives in Ireland.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard Hardy, who is originally from Belfast, was 'integral' to the Good Friday Agreement.

His defence counsel also told the court he has helped to maintain the agreement through 'fragile periods'.

The prosecution did not detail how much income tax Hardy failed to pay between 2002 and 2009 but Judge Mary Ellen Ring noted he reached settlements with the Revenue for sums of €200,000 and €80,000 which he has now paid.

After the judge read out the sums, prosecuting counsel John Byrne BL told her that 'it is perhaps best' not to outline the amount of the settlement as 'it is in some ways a confidential agreement.'

Judge Ring said it was a criminal prosecution in a public court and questioned why she couldn't refer to the sums.

The judge also noted that Hardy is on legal aid with the consent of the DPP.

She said that it is 'a conundrum' how he was able to settle with the Revenue for such large sums but not meet his legal costs. Judge Ring added that she was 'slightly baffled' by this.

She imposed a €10,000 fine on Hardy for the Revenue offences and gave him a year to pay. The maximum penalty is five years in prison and a €126,970 fine.

Hardy pleaded guilty to eight counts of failing to file income tax returns between 2002 and 2007 'as a charitable person' as defined under the Taxes Consolidation Act 1997.

Detective Garda Paul O'Grady of the Criminal Assets Bureau told the court that Hardy's tax affairs began to come under scrutiny in July 2009.

An investigation was started and analysis of his banks accounts uncovered the discrepancies.

Hardy was arrested in April 2011 but made no admissions.

He later came to a civil agreement to repay some of the money to Revenue after initially challenging their assessment of how much tax he owed.

The detective said that in 2006 Hardy was sentenced to six years at a German court for causing an explosion and attempted murder during an attack on a British Army base.

In 1990, he was jailed for five years at the Special Criminal Court for possession of explosives. He also has a conviction from 1986 for possession of stolen property.

Defence counsel Sean Gillane SC said these convictions 'relate to another world and another chapter' in Hardy's life. Judge Ring agreed they are not relevant to the tax matter.

He said his client is married with four young children and is in steady employment earning £1400stg a month.

Counsel said he lives a quiet life and has approached the case 'openly and honestl'y.

'He has put right what's gone wrong', counsel added referring to the settlement.

The Argus

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