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Fuel smuggler Patrick Belton told to hand over house or face prison in CAB probe

Patrick David Belton has been the target of CAB since 2004

Patrick David Belton has been the target of CAB since 2004

Eamon DillonSunday World

ONE of Ireland’s most prolific cross-border smugglers has been told he faces prison if a house seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau isn’t handed over.

Patrick David Belton has been the target of CAB since 2004 and two houses belonging to him were deemed the proceeds of crime in 2008 after a nine-day hearing.

Last week CAB sought a court order to have him committed to prison for contempt, but his lawyer explained Patrick Belton had never lived at the house at The Meadows in Dundalk.

His wife Paula and daughter Jennifer live there and are facing being homeless and asked for more time for alternative arrangements to be put in place, it was added.

Counsel for CAB opposed an extra time and said the Belton had been playing “ducks and drakes” and that a consent order had been made in 2018.

However, Judge Alex Owens said he would allow until May 1, after which time it would be contempt of court if the house is not vacated by them or any other relative.

“Tough luck if you can’t, otherwise it’s jail,” he told the three Beltons, who appeared in court in Dublin.

They nodded in reply to the judge.

The Sunday World previously reported how Belton had worked as a driver for Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy before setting up his own operation.

He was also acquitted of dangerous driving causing death when he drove through a British Army checkpoint, running over a soldier and failing to stop.

Belton was injured when the soldier’s colleague opened fire on the tanker near Crossmaglen in 1998.

In 2008 CAB were granted orders in Dublin High Court against two homes then worth €600,000 belonging to the south Armagh native.

Described in court as a “prolific smuggler”, it was heard how Belton had moved from Crossmaglen to Co Monaghan after customs in Northern Ireland began investigating him in 2003.

CAB was granted an order to seize his home at Magoney, Iniskeen, Co Monaghan, and the house at The Meadows in Dundalk, Co Louth.

He had previously settled a case with the Assets Recovery Agency in Northern Ireland, paying them £140,000.

Patrick David Belton has been the target of CAB since 2004

The head of the Criminal Assets Bureau told the High Court in 2008 that he believed Belton smuggled oil across the border for at least seven years.

He had delivered oil to various petrol stations on both sides of the border, and also leased two garages in Galway.

The High Court was told that he operated an oil business entirely outside the regulatory process and failed to comply regulations on both sides of the border. He was the first cross-border oil smuggler to be targeted by CAB.

At the time, Judge Kevin Feeney said he was satisfied Belton was involved in cross-border smuggling of oil products and involved in “a sizeable degree of illegality and criminality in running the business of selling fuels”.

He also accepted evidence that Belton was on social welfare either in the Republic or Northern Ireland between 1991 and 2004 and had paid “little or no tax” in either jurisdiction.

Belton had secured mortgages for the houses, purchased in 2000 and 2001, after claiming to be a manager of a filling station in Belfast earning £40,000 a year, when he was claiming social welfare.

Belton paid the mortgages on the houses, which amounted to approximately €280,000 for both, with significant numbers of cash payments and third-party cheques.

The judge rejected arguments by the defence that Belton’s fuel smuggling offences were mostly “extraterritorial fiscal offences” against UK law.

He also dismissed claims that the action was brought outside statutory time limits.

“Fuel smuggled into one jurisdiction which is then sold must be paid for in the jurisdiction where it was sourced,” he said.

The Sunday World previously reported how Belton had ended up in court after being accused of assaulting a member of staff at his own pub during a drinking session.

He pleaded guilty to pushing the woman over at Pa’s Bar on Bridge Street Drogheda in 2011

He verbally abused her before pushing her and she fell on the ground, suffering a minor cut to her finger.

None of the those present was prepared to make statements.

At Dundalk District Court the woman said she was “constantly being harassed by people approaching her on Belton’s behalf”.

The judge said he wanted more compensation than the €1,500 previously offered by Belton and he didn’t want the victim approached again.

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