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Thomas 'Slab' Murphy trial hears closing arguments

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy Image copyright Pacemaker Press
Image caption Thomas 'Slab' Murphy denies nine charges against him in a tax evasion trial at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin

Closing speeches are being heard at the trial of prominent republican Thomas "Slab" Murphy for alleged tax evasion.

The 66 year old from Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, County Louth, is being tried at the Republic of Ireland's Special Criminal Court.

He denies nine charges against him.

The prosecution's case is that he had significant dealings in relation to cattle and land and received farming grants, but failed to make tax returns.

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

A prosecuting lawyer told the judges at the Dublin court on Wednesday that whether or not Mr Murphy was a chargeable person was the "crux of the case".

Previously, the court had heard that a chargeable person is someone who is chargeable to tax on income.

"Thomas Murphy received or was entitled to receive income in respect of trade, then he's a chargeable person," the lawyer said.

"It is not important who is physically carrying out any particular aspects of the work, but who is in receipt of or entitled to receipt of income from that trade.

"In this instance, there's not a dispute that cattle trade is going in the name of Thomas Murphy," he said.

The lawyer said income from the trade went into a bank account in the name of Thomas Murphy and was used to fund a pension policy set up by him.

He submitted that the defence's suggestion that Mr Murphy was the "victim of some elaborate identity theft" was a "construct woven to try to get around the evidence".

"Money was lodged into Thomas Murphy's bank account. It doesn't matter who lodged it, that's where it went," he said.

"He was free to do with it what he wanted."

'Spectacular own goal'

A defence lawyer told the judges: "Patrick Murphy (Thomas Murphy's brother) lurks just below the surface of this case."

It is the defence case that Patrick Murphy managed Thomas' cattle herd and farming activities.

The lawyer referred to a statement of affairs, dating from 2009.

He said that Patrick Murphy "essentially admits" in the document that he is in charge of the herd attributed to Thomas Murphy.

He said that after the statement of affairs was introduced in evidence, the prosecution made "the most spectacular own goal in history".

"The prosecution bring you the goods. They bring you the evidence of forgery," the defence said;

The lawyer was referring to documents examined by a handwriting expert, who gave evidence earlier this week. The expert told the court there was "strong evidence" that the documents bearing a signature in the name of Thomas Murphy, were not signed by him.

"They exploded the myth there is no forgery in this case," he argued.

He also referred to a bank account opened in Thomas Murphy's name.

"For the first three years of this account, there is not a sign of a cattle dealing cheque in this account," he said.

The defence case is expected to conclude on Thursday.

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