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Court hears Slab Murphy recieved over €100,000 in farming grants

Court hears Slab Murphy recieved over €100,000 in farming grants

The trial of a prominent republican for alleged tax evasion at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin has heard that a man named Thomas Murphy, with an address in County Louth, received over €100,000 in farming grants from the Department of Agriculture over a period of eight years.

It is the prosecution's case that, although the accused, Thomas “Slab” Murphy, received payments from the Department of Agriculture and also conducted significant dealings in relation to land and cattle, he failed to make any returns to revenue.

Mr Murphy (66), of Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, has pleaded not guilty to nine charges alleging that he failed to furnish a return of his income, profits or gains or the source of his income, profits or gains to the Collector General or the Inspector of Taxes for the years 1996/97 to 2004.

Mr Murphy is being prosecuted on foot of an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

Today/Yesterday (Thurs.), the trial heard evidence from witnesses from the Department of Agriculture.

Niall McKeown, a Higher Executive Officer at the department, told the court that he assisted the Criminal Assets Bureau in relation to documentation regarding payments made by the department to a man named Thomas Murphy, of Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, from 1996 to 2004.

The court was told that, from 1996 to 2004, Thomas Murphy received farming grants from the Department of Agriculture totalling over 100,000euro.

The trial also heard evidence from former Department of Agriculture employee, Grainne Dalton, who told the court about applications for EU Area Aid which were sent to the Department of Agriculture in 1996, 1997, 1999 and 2004.

The application forms were signed by Thomas Murphy, with an address at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, she told the court.

Referring to the application forms, defending counsel John Kearney QC put to Ms Dalton, “You cannot, I'm suggesting, say that he [the accused] ever had them in his hand?”

“Not forensically, no,” Ms Dalton replied.

“Neither can you say the signatures were penned by the defendant,” Mr Kearney said.

Ms Dalton replied, “I can't say for certain.”

“It is not accepted by the defendant he had any hand or part in the creation or submission of this documentation,” Mr Kearney told the court.

Earlier, opening the trial, prosecuting counsel Paul Burns SC told the three-judge, non-jury court that Mr Murphy “conducted significant dealings in relation to land, and the trading of cattle.”

“He did not make any returns to Revenue in respect to the period in question,” Mr Burns said.

“Substantial cash payments were made by the accused in relation to renting land and in relation to silage for the cattle on those lands,” he added.

Mr Burns told the court that the accused made payments in excess of 300,000 euro, “paid mostly in cash and by way of third-party cheques.”

“The accused had access to significant sources of cash in order to make such payments,” Mr Burns said.

The trial continues.