Saturday 24 February 2018

Suspected ex-IRA boss appeals tax conviction

Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy Picture: Maxwells
Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy Picture: Maxwells
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Lawyers for the alleged former chief of staff of the Provisional IRA, Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, have 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.

The bachelor farmer, whose family farm at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth straddles the border, was jailed for 18 months in February for a €190,000 tax fraud.

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.

The barrister criticised the Special Criminal Court's reliance on the evidence of a Department of Agriculture official, which suggested Murphy was in charge of the farm.

Mr Kearney said the official could not be sure Murphy had signed an application form for a herd number. Counsel also said the official had testified he did not know who he met when he carried out a subsequent inspection at the farm, but thought it was more than likely Murphy. If this was "the high water mark of the prosecution case", then it was "not good enough", Mr Kearney said.

The barrister said there was evidence Murphy's brother Patrick was the person conducting the business of the farm and not his client.

"If you follow the money in this case, it all brings you back to Patrick Murphy," he said.

The appeal continues today.

Irish Independent

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