Thomas 'Slab' Murphy gets 18 months for tax evasion

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy
Thomas 'Slab' Murphy

Prominent Republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy has been handed an 18-month sentence at the Special Criminal Court today.

UPDATE: 13.55:

Murphy issued a statement via his solicitorm after the sentence was handed down.

“I am an Irish Republican and have been all my life.

For many years now I have been the subject of serial, prejudicial and wholly inaccurate commentary and media coverage.

“There have also been repeated assertions that I have amassed properties and wealth. This is utterly untrue. I do not own any property at all and I have no savings.

“Further with regard to my recent trial it was alleged by one broadcaster that 2 people who had given statements to An Garda felt unable to give evidence in court and there was a suggestion of intimidation of these witnesses.

“This is absolutely untrue. The witnesses did give evidence. The prosecutions legal team did not even allege there was witness intimidation.

“Despite never having been questioned by An Gárda Síochána in relation to Revenue matters I was arrested, charged and put on trial in the Special Criminal Court for failing to file tax returns in respect of farming.

“The case presented against me was that tax returns with an average liability of €4,279 tax per annum should have been filed by me over a 9 year period in relation to farming.

“The evidence called by the prosecution showed that Tax returns were made by family members in respect of the farm, and that all tax on any profit from farming has been paid.

“I maintain my innocence in respect of these charges which date back 20 years.

“Naturally I am very disappointed at the verdict of the court and have instructed my legal team to pursue an appeal immediately.”

Murphy was handed the sentence for a €190,000 tax fraud.

None of the jail term was suspended and he received no fines.

Mr Murphy was sentenced following an 11th hour legal submission moved by Mr Murphy's lawyer John Kearney QC arising from a Court of Criminal Appeal ruling involving Perry Wharrie, an Englishman jailed for his role in the largest drug seizure in the history of the State.

The Wharrie ruling was issued on February 15th last, after Mr Murphy's sentence hearing but before the Special Criminal Court handed down today's 18 month sentence to the bachelor farmer.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding judge of the Special Criminal Court, said the submissions, which the court had received in advance of today's sentence, "made no difference" to its consideration of the sentence.

Mr Murphy (66) was convicted last December following a 32 day trial at the non jury court.

Mr Murphy, who had no previous convictions, was found guilty of nine charges of failing to furnish a return in 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.

This morning, many supporters attended the Special Criminal Court which was also attended by a large number of gardai involved in the investigation which led to Mr Murphy's conviction.

At his sentence hearing earlier this month, the three judge court was told that Mr Murphy owes the Revenue almost €190,000 in unpaid taxes for his farming business at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, County Louth, which straddles the border with Northern Ireland.

The court also heard that Murphy now works as a yards man for a company in Crossmaglen, where as a PAYE employee he earns £1,055 per month.