Challenge by Slab to court order over tax charges

Challenge by 'Slab' to court order over tax charges
Wednesday January 16 2008

Prominent republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy appeared for the first time at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin yesterday on charges connected with alleged revenue offences.
But his counsel Michael O'Higgins challenged the validity of the order from Dundalk District Court sending him for trial to the Special Criminal Court.

The Special Criminal Court normally deals with terrorist-related offences but the Director of Public Prosecutions has the discretion to certify that the ordinary courts are inadequate to deal with it and to send it for trial to the three-judge non-jury court.

Mr Murphy (5, from Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, is being prosecuted on foot of an investigation by the Criminal Assets Bureau.

The charges allege that he failed to furnish a return of his income, profits or gains, or the sources of his income, profits or gains to the Collector General or the Inspector of Taxes for the tax years from 1996/97 to 2004.

Last Thursday, Mr Murphy was sent forward for trial from Dundalk District Court to the Special Criminal Court.

Yesterday, when Mr Murphy appeared, his counsel Mr O'Higgins challenged the validity of the return for trial.

He said a letter was sent to the office of Mr Murphy's solicitor at 5.20 pm last Friday when the office was closed, indicating there would be an application to amend the original return for trial.

A second letter was sent by fax at 7.35pm that evening indicating that the application would be heard at 9am on Monday.

Mr O'Higgins said that Mr Tiernan received a phone call at 8.56am on Monday morning informing him that the application would be heard at 9am.

Mr Tiernan told the State solicitor that he had business in another court and was not in a position to proceed with the application.

Mr O'Higgins said that once the return for trial was an issue there was an obligation to prove that it was lawful.

State counsel told the court that Mr Murphy's solicitor had chosen not to attend the district court hearing on Monday or to send someone on his behalf.

Mr Justice Paul Butler, presiding, remanded Murphy on continuing bail pending the fixing of a date for the hearing of the issue.

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