Alleged IRA leader ‘Slab’ Murphy unfairly jailed, says lawyer

Thomas Slab Murphy was found guilty of nine tax evasion charges earlier this year
Thomas Slab Murphy was found guilty of nine tax evasion charges earlier this year

Alleged former IRA leader Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy was unfairly jailed for tax evasion by the Irish courts, his lawyer has told an appeal.

Senior counsel John Kearney said all the tax due was paid by members of the 67-year-old’s family.

He said the trial judges failed to properly consider the facts of the case and overlooked reasonable doubts.

The bachelor farmer and self-confessed republican was found guilty of nine charges at the high-security Special Criminal Court in Dublin earlier this year.

His barrister said: “It is an incomplete and unfair analysis of this critical platform for the defendant’s case.”

Murphy’s appeal was heard by the Appeal Court on Tuesday.

Mr Kearney said part of the judgment was simply a “rehearsal” of the prosecution case.

He alleged there were multiple errors and claimed reasonable doubt had not been properly considered.

Murphy, from Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, on the border with Northern Ireland, was found to owe the Irish exchequer taxes, penalties and interest of almost €190,000 (£169,000) for tax dodging from 1996 to 2004.

Mr Kearney said: “All the tax was paid, the tax was paid in this case.”

He said Frank Murphy, Rosemary Murphy and Patrick Murphy paid the sums owed.

“It looks as if the tax was paid because Patrick Murphy paid. It look as if, in fact, he paid tax in excess of that estimate, as did Rosemary Murphy.”

There were 48 grounds of appeal.

The lawyer challenged the court’s finding on cheques in the case, some of which had been pre-signed while blank.

“We say the court got it wrong.”

He said the court disregarded a large body of circumstantial, exculpatory evidence which “we suggest totally undermines the validity of the verdict”.

“There is literally a shed-load of documents in this case of an exculpatory nature, all of the documents in Patrick Murphy’s shed, many written by Patrick Murphy.”

He added: “The absence of any proper determinative fact find in respect of all of these matters really undermines this verdict. All of the disregarded evidence was exculpatory and was set aside.”

Murphy was charged with five counts under the Republic’s Taxes Consolidation Act and four under the Finance Act that he knowingly and wilfully failed to make tax returns and did so without reasonable excuses.

The trial court found he did not furnish Ireland’s Revenue authorities with a return of income, profits or gains or the sources of them over the period but received €100,000 (£89,000) in farm grants and paid out €300,000 (£267,000) to rent land.

In 1998, Murphy lost a £1 million libel action against the Sunday Times which described him as a senior IRA figure.

On one of only two other occasions when he has spoken publicly, he claimed he had to sell a home to pay for some of the costs of the failed lawsuit.