Tax scam businessman denied bail
A Co Tyrone businessman, who along with his wife has admitted involvement in one of Northern Ireland’s largest tax scams, is behind bars waiting to be sentenced.
Yesterday Mr Justice Hart refused to renew bail for Gerry Small, for whom sentencing has been adjourned twice already.
Mr Justice Hart, who had ordered Small's arrest last Friday when he failed to appear for sentence, told defence QC James Gallagher he had already indicated that the only sentence was one of imprisonment.
The only matter that remained, said the judge, was to determine the length of that prison term.
Small, who showed up in Belfast Crown Court in a wheelchair, has along with his wife Mary, both from Cullenramer Road, Dungannon, admitted involvement in years of income tax and VAT fraud.
Both were due to be sentenced last Friday but Small reported in sick after dropping an earlier application to change his pleas back to “not guilty”.
Yesterday prosecuting QC Stephen Fowler reported that Small had been arrested by police on foot of the court's bench warrent on Friday evening. However, a doctor who examined him said he was unfit to be held in custody, so police then released him.
Mr Fowler said he only learned of this the following day and told police the wrong approach had been taken as Small should either have been taken to prison and held in the hospital wing, or taken directly to hospital and held under guard.
Later Mr Gallagher, in asking for Small's bail to be renewed, said that in his favour Small, save once, had always turned up in court when required and on occasions when not required.
“Indeed today he has also come to court of his own steam and without compunction,” said Mr Gallagher who added that Small had intended to come to court last Friday “but felt unwell”.
He added that Small was aware of the bench warrent issued for his arrest, but had remained at home, which were not the actions of a man wanting to avoid the police or capture. It is expected that Small and his wife, who is still free on her bail, will be sentenced within the next fortnight.