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Maths genius spared jail for tax evasion

Central Criminal Courts
Central Criminal Courts

A maths “genius” who failed to pay over €100,000 in taxes has avoided jail after a judge said the crimes were not motivated by greed but due to “a very unusual personality.”

Lawyers for David Cagney (49) described him as a genius in some aspects of his life but said his personal life and tax affairs were a shambolic mess.

Maurice Coffey BL, defending, compared the computer consultant to famous mathematician John Nash whose life is dramatised in the film A Beautiful Mind.

Cagney of Evora Park, Howth pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to eleven counts of failing to remit Value Added Tax  to the Collector General over a seven year period from 2003 to 2009. He also admitted a number of other tax related offences including failing to file income tax returns and furnishing incorrect information.

The total amount of VAT not paid over is €108,767.

Cagney was previously convicted in July 2008 of failing to file tax returns for 2004 and 2005. In February 2012 he was convicted of failing to file returns for 2008 and 2009.

Two witnesses, Cagney's ex-wife and a friend, testified that there was no question of greed or dishonesty on Cagney's part and that his crimes were down to his inability to address himself to “mundane matters, like filing a VAT return”.

Judge Martin Nolan said he could believe that the real reason for Cagney's crimes were his “very unusual character” and not greed.

He suspended a prison term of two years on condition he keep the peace for that period.

Cagney began working on a self employed basis as a computer consultant to a number of pharmaceutical companies in 2003. When invoicing his clients he would charge VAT but was not paying this VAT on to the Revenue Commissioners.

The court heard that in the past Cagney had being diagnosed with Adult ADHD and depression and he has had a difficult relationship with alcohol.

Once Revenue began auditing his accounts Cagney co-operated fully and showed them documentation and computer records which showed accurately the work he had done and invoiced for and the estimated VAT amounts.

John O’Reilly, an investigations office with Revenue, told John Byrne BL, prosecuting, that there was no income declared in respect of his self-employed work.

He agreed with Mr Coffey that Cagney lacked focus in dealing with the business side of his work and was owed a lot of money from clients.

In some cases Cagney was using the VAT number for Compustat Ltd., a company he had previously run until its dissolution in April 1999.

Mr O'Reilly also agreed that there were no large sums secreted off-shore and no signs of a lavish lifestyle.

Cagney's friend, tax consultant Fergal Kinsella, said he had tried to help Cagney with his tax affairs down the years but they were shambolic.

He said he was a very intelligent man but his personal life was chaotic. He said he had a gift for mathematics and would do excellent work in his profession but then fail to send out invoices.

He said his failures to remit the VAT was down to his terrible management.

“The issuing of an invoice is an annoyance to him. There's no question of greed. David doesn't want or need money,” said Mr Kinsella.

Cagney's former wife Roisin Fallon said that Cagney drove her to frustration with his “head in the sand” attitude. She said he would start work in the house but then get distracted and move on before it was finished.

She said that she had recently begun helping him with the accounts and invoicing side of his business and this had improved things.