Wednesday 18 September 2019

Revenue Inspector disagrees with claim that Thomas 'Slab' Murphy's brother managed the accused's cattle herd, court hears

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy
Thomas 'Slab' Murphy

Daniel Hickey

The trial of prominent republican Thomas "Slab" Murphy for alleged tax evasion has been listening to evidence from a Revenue Inspector.

The Revenue Inspector has disagreed with the defence's claim that Mr Murphy's brother managed the accused man's cattle herd and farming activities, the trial at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin has heard. 

It is the prosecution's case that, although Mr Murphy conducted significant dealings in relation to cattle and land, and received farming grants from the Department of Agriculture, he failed to make any returns to revenue.

Mr Murphy (66), of Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to nine charges alleging that he failed to furnish a return of his income, profits or gains or the source of his income, profits or gains to the Collector General or the Inspector of Taxes for the years 1996/97 to 2004.

Mr Murphy is being prosecuted on foot of an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Under cross-examination today, the Revenue Inspector, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the court he estimated that, from 1996 to 2001, Mr Murphy's income from farming was 15,000 Irish Pounds per year and, from 2002 to 2004, it was 15,000 Euro per year. 

Previously, the court heard evidence from the Revenue Inspector that Thomas Murphy, with an address at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, County Louth did not pay taxes for nine years.

John Kearney QC, defending, said, "You had a considerable volume of documentation upon which you could have based your estimate."

"It was incomplete, not the total picture," the Revenue Inspector said.

He further stated, "I wasn't able to extrapolate from that what the definite scientific figure was to be assessed. What I arrived at I thought was fair and equitable."

The court heard that when the Revenue Inspector examined documents, including farming grant application forms, he took them "at face value."

He agreed with Mr Kearney that he did not know if the signature on the application forms was Thomas Murphy's.

The court heard that, in 2001, the accused man's brother, Patrick Murphy, transferred his herd number to his wife, Rosemary Murphy.

"Did that raise a degree of scepticism?" Mr Kearney asked.

"No," the Revenue Inspector said, "in the normal course of business or trading, that wouldn't influence commercial reality."

He added that the transfer of herd number did not seem odd.

Mr Kearney put it to the witness that "some of the documentation suggests that this was a single farming unit."

The Revenue Inspector replied, "From the evidence I've heard, there seems to have been some commonality in expenditure, in terms of logistics, but outside of that, no."

Referring to Patrick Murphy's tax returns, Mr Kearney said, "You can't rule out the reasonable possibility that his farming return relates to farming another herd."

"I can't make a supposition on that," the Revenue Inspector said.

The court also heard that, in 2008, Thomas Murphy's brothers, Patrick and Frank, reached a settlement with the Revenue Commissioners. 

A document referred to as a statement of affairs of Patrick Murphy was shown to the court. 

Mr Kearney said that in the document Patrick Murphy cites his herd numbers, one of which is the herd number the court has previously heard is attributed to a man named Thomas Murphy.

The Revenue Inspector agreed with Mr Kearney that the State settled with Patrick Murphy on the basis of that statement.

The trial continues.

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