Appeal of garlic scam sentence to be prioritised
THE courts are to prioritise an appeal by a businessman against the severity of a six-year jail sentence over a €1.6m garlic import scam on humanitarian grounds.
However, the appeal against the sentence is still not expected to be heard until October at the earliest.
Last March, Paul Begley (46), the head of Ireland's largest fruit and vegetable producers, Begley Brothers Ltd, Blanchardstown, Dublin, was jailed after he admitted avoiding paying higher duties and taxes on over a thousand tonnes of garlic imported from China by having it labelled as apples.
Apples have a significantly cheaper rate.
The court heard the import tax on garlic can be as high as 232pc, while other fruit and vegetables have rates as low as 9pc.
Begley, of Woodlock, Redgap, Rathcoole, pleaded guilty to four counts of evading customs duty between September 2003 and October 2007.
Judge Martin Nolan imposed the six-year term on one count and one year on another count.
However, Begley has appealed against the severity of that sentence. The Director of Public Prosecution is opposing Begley's appeal.
Yesterday, Patrick Gageby SC asked the Court of Criminal Appeal to allow Begley's case to be given priority at next week's list to fix dates on humanitarian grounds.
Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, noting that the case was one where the maximum sentence had been applied following a guilty plea on first offence, said he was prepared to give the appeal a priority listing.
Passing sentence last year, Judge Nolan said he had to impose a significant prison term because as such offences were hard to uncover, the only effective deterrence was a lengthy jail terms for those who were caught.