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Businessman appeals garlic scam sentence

A BUSINESSMAN jailed for six years for evading customs duty on imported garlic has launched an appeal.

Paul Begley (46) is challenging the severity of the sentence handed down to him for the €1.6m scam involving the importation of garlic.

The father of three, of Begley Brothers Ltd, based in Blanchardstown, was jailed earlier this month.

He lodged his appeal on March 23 last, the Herald has learned.

There was shock at his sentence, with Independent TD Finian McGrath labelling it "over the top".

"It gives me no joy at all to jail a decent man," the sentencing judge said at the time.

Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard on March 9 how the businessman avoided paying customs duty on over a thousand tonnes of garlic from China by having them labelled as apples.


His company employs 150 people and the married father-of-three made full admissions to the scam, making monthly repayments of €33,000 over the past two years to the Revenue.

Begley, of Woodlock, Redgap, Rathcoole, pleaded guilty to four sample counts of evading customs duty between September 2003 and October 2007. The total amount of garlic involved 1,013 tonnes.

Revenue officer Denis Twohig told prosecuting counsel, Remy Farrell, that the scam was uncovered on October 9, 2007 when customs officers at Dublin Port investigated a container that was supposed to contain 18 tonnes of apples and two tonnes of garlic.

When they looked inside they found 21 tonnes of garlic and no apples.

Mr Twohig said the import duty on apples was 9pc of the total value while the duty on garlic is €120 per kilogram and an additional 9.6pc of the total value.

Following the find, Revenue Officers began an investigation into previous imports by the company.

During a search of the HQ, officers seized a series of emails between Begley and his garlic supplier in China which were exchanged over the course of four years


The emails told the supplier to falsify the importation documents to describe the shipments as apples rather than garlic.

The court heard Begley has been paying off debt over the past two years at €33,000 a month. A debt of €700,000 remained outstanding.