Tuesday 24 October 2017

Waste disposal father and son couldn't explain tens of thousands of euro in bank accounts

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A SON and his blind father, who were both involved in a waste disposal business, had failed to properly account for the source of tens of thousands of euros in their bank accounts during investigations into whether certain monies they had were the proceeds of crime, the Court of Appeal has said.

Michael Murphy junior and his father Michael senior, from 36 Riverview Estate, Tower, Cork, failed in an appeal against a High Court decision freezing certain cash and two investment bonds worth €30,000 which a judge was satisfied represented the proceeds of crime.

Michael junior, who has 43 previous convictions, including one for which he was sentenced to six years for possession of firearms, is alleged by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) to be involved in drug dealing and with a Limerick crime gang. 

Michael senior, who lost his sight in an accident in 1983, has 21 previous convictions and CAB says, he has a shared involvement in crime with his son including handling stolen property.

Michael junior claimed his money came from his waste business and from the sale of motorcycles, cars and lawnmowers as well as some from a compensation claim.

Michael senior claimed the money for a €20,000 Irish Life investment bond in his name came from his late mother and that he also "begged on the streets of Tralee, Killarney and Lismore to try and raise money  for an eye operation".

The case arose after Michael junior was stopped by gardai in May 2009 driving an Audi car with six firearms in the boot, and for which he later received the six year sentence. 

In a follow-up search of Michael junior's girlfriend's home at Clonard Avenue, Granagh, Co Cork,  gardai found cash of st£6,625 and €9,000 in cash in a rucksack in a bedroom.  Further investigations uncovered Michael senior's €20,000 investment bond and another for €10,000 in Michael junior's name.

In November 2014, Mr Justice George Birmingham, in the High Court, granted CAB orders freezing part of the cash and the bonds saying he was satisfied they represented the proceeds of crime.  He excluded €12,550 which he was satisfied came from legitimate sources, including a compensation claim.

The judge said a CAB financial crime analyst who conducted a lifestyle analysis of Michael junior for 2000 to 2009 found he had total legitimate earnings of around €77,000 - although there was more than €210,000 available to him.  

His Murphy Waste Recycling business made just one income tax return in 2007 showing a loss of €6,188 and never appeared to be profitable.

Michael senior had indicated he travelled on the company's waste lorry and at waste disposal facilities and it was not unusual for the vehicle to be waved through out of sympathy for him as a blind man which was why, it was claimed, the level of transactions was under recorded.

Michael senior's sole income since 1983 was from blind pension and disability payments.

The judge said the pair, in particular the son, provided sometimes multiple explanations for various lodgments to accounts, including credit union accounts.

One explanation from Michael senior, which the judge had particular difficulty with, was that he and his son place a €500 bet in October 2005 that Watford would be relegated from the English Premiership.

Michael senior said they collected €11,000 in winnings and kept it in a cash box at home.

Mr Justice Birmingham said any bookie which offered 11-1 odds on a newly promoted team being relegated the following season would not stay in business for long.

An appeal against Mr Justice Birmingham's findings was lodged by Michael junior on a number of grounds including that the judge erred in ruling his (Michael's junior's) investment bond was bought with the proceeds of crime.

Mr Justice Michael Peart, on behalf of a three-judge Court of Appeal  dismissed the appeal.

He said there was no doubt there was evidence that a good deal of the lodgments to both men's accounts "cannot be accounted for by known sources of legitimate income".

In Michael junior's case, experts had analysed that there was €158,000 from "unknown sources" between 1998 and 2009, including while he was serving a six year sentence, Mr Justice Peart said.

In Michael senior's case, a similar analysis found €212,000 was lodged between 1985 and 2009 and all but €100,000 of that was from unknown sources, he said.

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