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Now 'garlic' judge jails another VAT businessman

THE judge who controversially jailed a garlic importer for six years for failing to pay a €1.6m VAT debt has jailed a Dublin man for 16 months for failing to pay €65,000 in VAT to the State.

James Thompson (48) issued invoices inclusive of VAT for his security services between 2005 and 2008 -- but did not remit the VAT to the Revenue as required.

Thompson, of Rafters Road, Drimnagh, was sentenced by Judge Martin Nolan when he pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Court to seven counts of failing to remit VAT in the period January/February 2005 to September/October 2008.

He has no previous convictions.

Security

Earlier this year Judge Nolan jailed Dublin food importer Paul Begley (46) for six years for failing to pay €1.6m in tax due on Chinese garlic.

Thompson's defence counsel, Kerida Naidoo, submitted that as his client was now tax compliant, and currently working and paying tax, it was not in the public interest to jail him.

Judge Nolan said there must be a price to be paid for the offence, which he accepted was at the lower end of the scale.

He imposed a 16-month sentence.

Fergus Kane, of the Revenue Commissioners, told Anne Rowland, prosecuting, that, following the receipt of confidential information, they began making inquiries and a transport company confirmed that Thompson had provided security services to them.

That company provided invoices submitted to them by Thompson, inclusive of VAT, which they had paid.

Thompson attended voluntarily for interview and admitted raising the invoices and not remitting the VAT to Revenue.

The total amount of VAT unpaid over the period was €65,181. He offered no excuse other than drinking heavily at the time.

Mr Kane agreed with Mr Naidoo that Thompson had co-operated with the investigation and he was now tax compliant.

Mr Naidoo submitted this case fell at the lower end of the spectrum of the offence, which covered people who owe tens of thousands to the Revenue up to people who owe millions.

He said Thompson was not a man of extravagant means and came from a decent family.

Failure

Mr Thompson is the latest in a long line of people sentenced by the courts for failure to pay VAT this year.

Judge Nolan also sentenced car dealer John Hughes from Cula Road, Bray, Co Wicklow, to four years after he failed to pay over €220,000 VAT on secondhand vehicles.

Sean Hartigan (53), of Prestige Recycling at North Circular Road, Limerick, was jailed for three years for not paying €188,000.

Derek Floyd (33), a sub-contractor, at Lower Main Street, Tulla, Co Clare, was jailed for six years for €680,000 VAT fraud.

hnews@herald.ie


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