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'Slab' Murphy had nothing to do with farming, appeal hears

By Ruaidhri Giblin

Published 10/11/2016

Tax case: Thomas Murphy
Tax case: Thomas Murphy

Prominent republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy had nothing to do with cattle farming, his lawyers have told an appeal against his conviction for evading tax on profits from a farming business.

The 67-year-old, whose farm at Hackballscross, Co Louth, straddles the border, was sentenced to 18 months in jail at Dublin's Special Criminal Court in February 26 after being found guilty of nine charges of failing to comply with tax laws in the Republic between 1996 and 2004.

Murphy's barrister John Kearney QC told the Court of Appeal yesterday that his client's brother Patrick Murphy had been in control of the farm from before 1991 until now.

Mr Kearney said documents on the movement of cattle show Patrick Murphy was the "man in the fields" in ongoing control.

In reference to certain transactions, Mr Kearney said a witness gave evidence that Patrick Murphy "probably" forged or filled in the body of these documents. Mr Kearney said a reasonable inference could be drawn from them that Thomas Murphy had nothing to do with cattle farming and Patrick Murphy used his name.

Cheques from cattle sales were going into a particular account - but the evidence demonstrated a "real possibility" that Patrick Murphy operated the account, not Thomas Murphy, Mr Kearney said.

A forensic accountant believed that Patrick Murphy had been using other people's accounts. In other words, Patrick Murphy had a propensity to use bank accounts of other people, counsel said.

If Patrick Murphy could put his farm into his wife's name, he might also put a farm into his brother's name, counsel suggested. No matter what level of analysis you do, "Patrick Murphy lurks".

This was the type of joined-up analytical work the Special Criminal Court should have done, counsel submitted.

Having brought the court's attention to this analysis, it was "staggering" that the court didn't mention "any of it" in its verdict.

He submitted that in a circumstantial case, the Special Criminal Court was duty-bound to "put the jigsaw together", but the court took the prosecution jigsaw and totally disregarded the alternative.

At hearing.

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