'Slab' Murphy: Appeal against jail term dismissed

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Image caption Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was prosecuted after a Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) investigation

An appeal by alleged former IRA "chief of staff", Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, against his jail term for tax evasion has been dismissed.

Murphy was sentenced to 18 months for tax evasion last February after he was convicted of nine charges at the Republic of Ireland's non-jury Special Criminal Court.

The 67-year-old had denied the charges.

He launched a legal challenge at the Court of Appeal to overturn the verdict in November.

Murphy, who has an address at Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, County Louth, was prosecuted after a Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) investigation.

Who is 'Slab' Murphy?

Vincent Kearney, BBC News NI Home Affairs Correspondent

This was far from any ordinary, run-of-the-mill tax case.

The man involved had been a high-profile target for the police and other law enforcement agencies on both sides of the border for decades.

Thomas "Slab" Murphy claims he is just a farmer.

But he is also alleged to have been one of the most powerful figures within the Provisional IRA.

Read more here

Lawyers for Murphy claimed he had been unfairly jailed because of a misunderstanding by prosecutors, arguing he was being pursued for taxes already paid by others in his family.

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was found to owe the Irish exchequer taxes, penalties and interest of almost 190,000 euro (£147,000) for tax dodging from 1996 to 2004.

He was charged with knowingly and wilfully failing to make tax returns and doing so without reasonable excuses.

The trial court found he did not furnish Ireland's revenue authorities with a return of income, profits or gains or the sources of them over the period but received 100,000 euro (£73,000) in farm grants and paid out 300,000 euro (£220,000) to rent land.

Murphy sought to overturn his conviction on 53 grounds of appeal.

The Court of Appeal said the scale of the written submissions in the case was daunting, extending to more than 350 pages from Murphy and more than 100 pages from the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Image caption CAB officials seized significant cash sums in different currencies from Murphy's home

The President of the Court of Appeal said it was not tasked with a reconsideration of the entire trial.

He said it essentially had to consider if the Special Criminal Court was entitled to find Murphy guilty, whether it was a satisfactory judgment and whether there was any reasonable doubt in the case.

In a 94-page ruling, the judge said the accused could be in no doubt as to the reasons that led the Special Criminal Court to its conclusions.

The Court of Appeal had no difficulty with the reasoning of the ruling, which, he said, reflected the fundamental simplicity of the issue on the "counts in the indictment, the strength of the prosecution case and the essentially hypothetical nature of the defence."

He concluded: "The court accordingly dismisses the appeal against conviction."

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