Saturday 7 December 2019

Pictured: Convicted tax cheat and alleged former IRA chief serves out remainder of sentence in open prison

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy in Loughan House
Thomas 'Slab' Murphy in Loughan House
Thomas 'Slab' Murphy in Loughan House Newsdesk Newsdesk

Convicted tax cheat and the alleged former IRA chief of staff Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy will serve out the remainder of his 18 month sentence in open prison ‘Loughan House’.

A tracksuit-clad Murphy (67) was pictured walking in the grounds close to Loughan House last week.

Murphy, described as a “good republican” by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, was sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Special Criminal Court on election day in February of last year.

Murphy was found guilty on nine counts of failing to file tax returns, worth €190,000, between 1996 and 2004.

His transfer to the low-security facility comes as he prepares for his release in April.

He was moved from the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise to the Co Cavan facility last week.

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy in Loughan House
Thomas 'Slab' Murphy in Loughan House

It’s understood Murphy kept a low profile in the Midlands prison, not mixing with other prisoners and keeping to himself.

His decision to keep away from Continuity and Real IRA inmates meant that Murphy was treated as a non-political prison during his time in the midlands and qualified for transfer to Loughan House.

Loughan House is set in 47 acres of park and woodland in Co Cavan, which the inmates are free to enjoy.

Murphy, wearing a black fleece jacket and tracksuit bottoms, was pictured by the ‘Sunday World’ while out walking.

Other high profile prisoners at Loughan House include the three former banking executives serving sentences for their part in a €7bn market deception.

Fomer Anglo executives Denis Casey, John Bowe and former Irish Life and Permanent group chief executive Denis Casey were jailed last year.

The trio were transferred to Loughan House last September after two months in Mountjoy Prison’s Training Unit.

Another inmate at Loughan House is former financial advisor and socialite Breifne O’Brien.

O’Brien (55) was jailed for running a pyramid scheme which went bust, leaving the investors, many of whom were friends and family, with a loss of €7.5m.

O’Brien was jailed for seven years in 2014.

Separately, investigations are continuing by the Criminal Assets Bureau into Slab Murphy’s financial empire.

According to the BBC’s underworld rich list, Murphy is reputed to have built up a fortune of more than €58m from money-laundering and smuggling cigarettes, oil and pigs.

He is believed to have done so while reputedly acting as the IRA’s head of operations in charge of bombing, and later as its chief-of-staff.

Last November, Murphy moved to appeal his convction and sentence.

Lawyers for for the bachelor farmer, whose family farm at Ballybinaby in Hackballscross, Co Louth, straddles the border, told the Court of Appeal he was unfairly convicted of tax evasion.

Counsel for Murphy (67) claimed the Special Criminal Court did not have regard to circumstantial evidence which would have cleared him.

He was convicted after the non-jury court found he failed to furnish the Revenue Commissioners with a return of income, profits or gains between 1996 and 2004.

In the same period he was alleged to have received €100,000 in grants and paid out over €300,000 to rent land.

The prosecution arose out of a raid by the Criminal Assets Bureau on the Murphy farm in 2006 during which black bags were discovered in a hay shed containing sums of cash totalling more than €250,000 and £100,000.

However, John Kearney QC, for Murphy, claimed there was strong evidence that some documents used in the prosecution, supposedly bearing Murphy’s signature, had been forged.

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